BOISE — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission unanimously approved the state’s first-ever wolverine management plan charting a course toward the long-term sustainability of Idaho’s wolverine population.
The management plan for the conservation of wolverines in Idaho, developed by Idaho Department of Fish and Game, will guide state efforts to conserve and protect the wolverine over the next five years.
Idaho is one of four western states where wolverines live. The others are Montana, Wyoming and Washington. Idaho’s plan is the first state management plan for wolverines in the nation.
“We appreciate the commission’s vote of confidence on this plan,” stated Idaho Fish and Game Wildlife Chief Jeff Gould. “Wolverines are an important species to the citizens of Idaho and we want to ensure they remain part of Idaho’s wildlife heritage.”
Being the size of a bear cub, wolverines are the largest terrestrial member of the weasel family. They occupy cold, snowy mountainous regions of the U.S. In Idaho, the wolverine is classified as a protected nongame animal and species of greatest conservation need based on low densities and uncertain numbers.
Wolverines in the lower 48 states are currently proposed for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, in part because of projected loss of snow habitat from climate change. Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners approved the plan as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials deliberate a final listing decision on wolverines, anticipated for early August.
“The plan presents a viable, proactive alternative to keep wolverine off the nation’s list of endangered species,” said Gould. “Whether wolverines are listed or not, Idaho Fish and Game is poised to hit the ground running with this plan.”
Fish and Game Commissioner Will Naillon of Challis represents the Salmon region, a wolverine stronghold in Idaho. He sees the plan benefiting not only wolverines, but a broad spectrum of constituents.
“The development of this plan for wolverines, a protected nongame species, may help to avert a federal listing and subsequent land use restrictions. This plan benefits all land users, including sportsmen and women.” said Naillon.
One of the wolverine’s most striking traits is its large space requirements, which invariably overlap multiple political boundaries. A key theme of the plan is the need for coordinated wolverine conservation across these boundaries. Robert Inman, executive director of the Craighead Institute and one of the world’s foremost experts on wolverines, thinks the Idaho plan is an important, positive step forward for the species.
“Wolverine conservation is about collaboration at the multi-state scale,” said Inman. “Idaho Fish and Game’s plan has that element right up front along with key goals regarding habitat connectivity and monitoring the population.” He added, “Idaho has shown vision and leadership by developing a plan that other states can link to and build upon to get the best possible conservation work done for wolverines.”
The plan is available on the Idaho Fish and Game website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/wolverine-conservation-plan.
For more information about the plan, contact Salmon Region Wildlife Biologist Beth Waterbury at 208-756-2271.