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Defenders of Wildlife v. Jewell

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20070
Nos. 14-246, (D. Mont., 04/04/2016) (Christensen, J.)

A district court held that FWS violated the ESA when it decided not to list the wolverine as a threatened species. FWS proposed to list the wolverine in 2013, but then changed course in 2014 and withdrew the proposal; this lawsuit followed. The court ruled against the agency, holding that FWS erred in determining that climate change and projected spring snow cover would not impact the wolverine at the reproductive denning scale in the foreseeable future. FWS also erred in concluding that small population size and low genetic diversity do not pose an independent threat to wolverine viability in the United States. By incorporating these determinations into the withdrawal, FWS' decision against listing the wolverine as threatened under the ESA was arbitrary and capricious. According to the court, "no greater level of certainty is needed to see the writing on the wall for this snow-dependent species standing squarely in the path of global climate change." The ESA requires FWS to take "action at the earliest possible, defensible point in time to protect against the loss of biodiversity within our reach as a nation. For the wolverine, that time is now."