Home News Wolverines Protected: $11,000 Reward for Justice in Landmark U.S. Fish and Wildlife Decision

Wolverines Protected: $11,000 Reward for Justice in Landmark U.S. Fish and Wildlife Decision

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In a significant development, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the wolverine population in the lower 48 states as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This decision, aimed at safeguarding the rare wild species, comes in the wake of a disturbing incident in southwest Montana where a wolverine was illegally killed and skinned. Conservation groups, persistently advocating for the wolverine’s protection, celebrate this decision as a crucial step toward ensuring the survival of the species.

Legal Battle and Enforcement:

Conservation groups had initially petitioned for the wolverine’s threatened status in 1994 and reiterated the request in 2000. Faced with repeated delays and obstructions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, advocates sought legal recourse, with Earthjustice leading the charge. The legal battles, fought in courtrooms, consistently ruled in favour of the wolverine, either through judicial decisions or favourable settlement agreements.

Enhanced Protections for Wolverines:

The recent decision grants the Wolverine additional legal protections and programs for recovery, reinforcing efforts to preserve its remaining habitat. Wolverines, the largest terrestrial members of the weasel family, face a looming threat of habitat loss due to climate change. The species relies on areas with deep snow through late spring, crucial for pregnant females to dig dens and nurture their young. With scientists estimating no more than 300 wolverines in the lower 48 states, the decision is a critical move to secure the species’ future.

Illegal Killing Sparks Outrage and Rewards:

The positive news is overshadowed by a recent incident in southwest Montana where a wolverine was illegally killed and skinned along a closed U.S. Forest Service road in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The discovery on November 10th has prompted outrage and led to the announcement of an $11,000 reward for information leading to a successful prosecution. Conservationists, including Kristine Akland, Northern Rockies director at the Center for Biological Diversity, condemn the act as “heartbreaking and cowardly.”

Climate Change and Wolverine Threats:

Wolverines, known for their fierce independence, confront significant threats from climate change-driven factors. The reduction of mountain snowpack, crucial for denning and raising their young, poses a direct challenge to their survival. The recent legal victory secured by the Center for Biological Diversity against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service highlights the importance of acknowledging the impact of climate change on wolverines. The agency is expected to issue a new listing decision by the end of November 2023.

Legal Consequences for Wolverine Killings:

Killing wolverines is strictly prohibited under both federal and state law, with potential criminal and civil penalties for offenders. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, in collaboration with conservation organizations, is offering substantial rewards totaling $11,000 for information leading to the apprehension and prosecution of the individual responsible for the illegal killing. The hope is that these rewards will encourage individuals to come forward and assist in bringing the perpetrator to justice.


As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes a crucial step in granting threatened status to wolverines in the lower 48 states, the illegal killing of a wolverine in Montana serves as a stark reminder of the challenges these animals face. The intersection of legal victories, climate change threats, and the urgent need for public cooperation to address illegal activities underscores the complex landscape of wildlife conservation. The collective efforts of conservation groups, legal advocates, and concerned citizens are pivotal in securing a future where wolverines can thrive in their natural habitats.

Anyone with information about the wolverine killing should contact Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks at 1-800-TIP-MONT or HERE! 

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1 comment

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Dr. Chandrika

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I am a veterinary doctor who is passionate about providing top-quality care for pets and their families. My mission is to share my knowledge and expertise with pet owners through my blog, petearnest.com.


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