[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 239 (Tuesday, December 14, 2010)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 78029-78061]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-30573]



[[Page 78029]]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Part III





Department of the Interior





-----------------------------------------------------------------------



Fish and Wildlife Service



-----------------------------------------------------------------------



50 CFR Part 17



Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a 
Petition To List the North American Wolverine as Endangered or 
Threatened; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 75 , No. 239 / Tuesday, December 14, 2010 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 78030]]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2008-0029; MO 92210-0-0008-B2]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding 
on a Petition To List the North American Wolverine as Endangered or 
Threatened

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 12-month petition finding.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
12-month finding on a petition to list the North American wolverine 
(Gulo gulo luscus) as an endangered or threatened species under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After review of all 
available scientific and commercial information, we find that the North 
American wolverine occurring in the contiguous United States is a 
distinct population segment (DPS) and that addition of this DPS to the 
Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants is warranted. 
Currently, however, listing the contiguous U.S. DPS of the North 
American wolverine is precluded by higher priority actions to amend the 
Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Upon 
publication of this 12-month petition finding, we will add the 
contiguous U.S. DPS of the wolverine to our candidate species list. We 
consider the current range of the species to include portions of the 
States of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, 
and California. However, due to the dispersal abilities of individual 
wolverines, we expect that wolverines are likely to travel outside the 
currently occupied area. We will develop a proposed rule to list this 
DPS as our priorities allow (see section on Preclusion and Expeditious 
Progress). We will make any determination on critical habitat during 
development of the proposed listing rule. In the interim, we will 
address the status of this DPS through our annual Candidate Notice of 
Review.

DATES: This finding was made on December 14, 2010.

ADDRESSES: This finding is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R6-ES-2008-0029. Supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this finding is available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, MT 59601; telephone (406) 449-5225. 
Please submit any new information, materials, comments, or questions 
concerning this finding to the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Wilson, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Field Office (see ADDRESSES); by 
telephone at 406-449-5225; or by facsimile at 406-449-5339. If you use 
a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires 
that, for any petition to revise the Federal Lists of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife and Plants that contains substantial scientific and 
commercial information that listing a species may be warranted, we make 
a finding within 12 months of the date of receipt of the petition. In 
this finding, we determine whether the petitioned action is: (a) Not 
warranted, (b) warranted, or (c) warranted, but the immediate proposal 
of a regulation implementing the petitioned action is precluded by 
other pending proposals to determine whether species are threatened or 
endangered, and whether expeditious progress is being made to add or 
remove qualified species from the Federal Lists of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Section 4(b)(3)(C) of the Act requires 
that we treat a petition for which the requested action is found to be 
warranted but precluded as though resubmitted on the date of such 
finding, that is, requiring a subsequent finding to be made within 12 
months. We must publish these 12-month findings in the Federal 
Register.

Previous Federal Actions

    On April 19, 1995, we published a finding (60 FR 19567) that a 
previous petition, submitted by the Predator Project (now named the 
Predator Conservation Alliance) and Biodiversity Legal Foundation to 
list the wolverine in the contiguous United States, did not provide 
substantial information indicating that listing the wolverine in the 
contiguous United States may be warranted.
    On July 14, 2000, we received a petition dated July 11, 2000, 
submitted by the Biodiversity Legal Foundation, Predator Conservation 
Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, Friends 
of the Clearwater, and Superior Wilderness Action Network, to list the 
wolverine within the contiguous United States as a threatened or 
endangered species and designate critical habitat for the species.
    On October 21, 2003, we published a 90-day finding that a petition 
to list the wolverine in the contiguous United States failed to present 
substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that 
listing may be warranted (68 FR 60112).
    On September 29, 2006, as a result of a complaint filed by 
Defenders of Wildlife and others alleging we used the wrong standards 
to assess the wolverine petition, the U.S. District Court, Montana 
District, ruled that our 90-day petition finding was in error and 
ordered us to make a 12-month finding for the wolverine. On April 6, 
2007, a deadline for this 12-month finding was extended to February 28, 
2008.
    On March 11, 2008, we published a 12-month finding of ``not 
warranted'' for the wolverine in the contiguous United States (73 FR 
12929). In that finding we determined that the wolverine in the 
contiguous United States did not constitute a distinct population 
segment or a significant portion of the range of wolverines in North 
America and so was not eligible for listing under the Act.
    On July 8, 2008 we received a Notice of Intent to Sue from 
Earthjustice alleging violations of the Act in our March 11, 2008, 12-
month finding. On September 30, 2008, Earthjustice filed a complaint in 
the U.S. District Court, District of Montana, seeking to set aside and 
remand the 12-month finding back to the Service for reconsideration.
    On March 6, 2009, the Service agreed to settle the case with 
Earthjustice by voluntarily remanding the 12-month finding and issuing 
a new 12-month finding by December 1, 2010. Following the settlement 
agreement, the court dismissed the case on June 15, 2009, and ordered 
the Service to comply with the settlement agreement.
    On April 15, 2010, the Service published a Notice of Initiation of 
a 12-month finding for wolverines in the contiguous United States (75 
FR 19591).

Species Information

Taxonomy and Life History
    The wolverine has a holarctic distribution including northern 
portions of Europe, Asia, and North America. The currently accepted 
taxonomy classifies wolverines worldwide as a single species, Gulo 
gulo. Old and New World wolverines are divided into separate 
subspecies. Wolverines in the

[[Page 78031]]

contiguous United States are a part of the New World subspecies, G. g. 
luscus: the North American wolverine (Kurten and Rausch 1959 p. 19; 
Pasitschniak-Arts and Lariviere 1995, p. 1). The species is known by 
several common names including mountain devil, glutton, caracajou, 
quickhatch, gulon, skunk bear, as well as wolverine.
    The wolverine is the largest terrestrial member of the family 
Mustelidae. Adult males weigh 12 to 18 kilograms (kg) (26 to 40 pounds 
(lb), and adult females weigh 8 to 12 kg (17 to 26 lb) (Banci 1994, p. 
99). The wolverine resembles a small bear with a bushy tail. It has a 
broad, rounded head; short, rounded ears, and small eyes. Each foot has 
five toes with curved, semi-retractile claws used for digging and 
climbing (Banci 1994, p. 99).
    A large number of female wolverines (40 percent) are capable of 
giving birth at 2 years old, become pregnant most years, and produce 
litter sizes of approximately 3.4 kits on average. Pregnant females 
commonly resorb or spontaneously abort litters prior to giving birth 
(Magoun 1985, pp. 30-31; Copeland 1996, p. 43; Persson et al. 2006, p. 
77; Inman et al. 2007c, p. 70). It is likely that, despite the high 
rate of initiation of pregnancy, due to the spontaneous abortion of 
litters resulting from resource limitation, actual rates of successful 
reproduction in wolverines are among the lowest known for mammals 
(Persson 2005, p. 1456). In one study of known-aged females, none 
reproduced at age 2, 3 of 10 first reproduced at age 3, and 2 did not 
reproduce until age 4; the average age at first reproduction was 3.4 
years (Persson et al. 2006, pp. 76-77). The average age at first 
reproduction is likely more than 3 years (Inman et al. 2007c, p. 70).
    It is common for females to forgo reproducing every year, possibly 
saving resources to increase reproductive success in subsequent years 
(Persson 2005, p. 1456). Supplemental feeding of females increases 
reproductive potential (Persson 2005, p. 1456). Food-supplemented 
females were also more successful at raising kits to the time of 
weaning, suggesting that wolverine reproduction and ultimately 
population growth rates and viability are food-limited. By age 3, 
nearly all female wolverines become pregnant every year, but energetic 
constraints due to low food availability result in loss of pregnancy in 
about half of them each year. It is likely that, in many places in the 
range of wolverines, it takes 2 years of foraging for a female to store 
enough energy to successfully reproduce (Persson 2005, p. 1456).
    Breeding generally occurs from late spring to early fall (Magoun 
and Valkenburg 1983, p. 175; Mead et al. 1991, pp. 808-811). Females 
undergo delayed implantation until the following winter to spring, when 
active gestation lasts from 30 to 40 days (Rausch and Pearson 1972, pp. 
254-257). Litters are born from mid-February through March, containing 
one to five kits, with an average in North America of between 1 and 2 
kits (Magoun 1985, pp. 28-31; Copeland 1996, p. 36; Krebs and Lewis 
1999, p. 698; Copeland and Yates 2006, pp. 32-36; Inman et al. 2007c, 
p. 68).
    Female wolverines use natal (birthing) dens that are excavated in 
snow. Persistent, stable snow greater than 1.5 meters (m) (5 feet (ft)) 
deep appears to be a requirement for natal denning, because it provides 
security for offspring and buffers cold winter temperatures (Pulliainen 
1968, p. 342; Copeland 1996, pp. 92-97; Magoun and Copeland 1998, pp. 
1317-1318; Banci 1994, pp. 109-110; Inman et al. 2007c, pp. 71-72; 
Copeland et al. 2010, pp. 240-242). Female wolverines go to great 
lengths to find secure den sites, suggesting that predation is a 
concern (Banci 1994, p. 107). Natal dens consist of tunnels that 
contain well-used runways and bed sites and may naturally incorporate 
shrubs, rocks, and downed logs as part of their structure (Magoun and 
Copeland 1998, pp. 1315-1316; Inman et al. 2007c, pp. 71-72). In Idaho, 
natal den sites occur above 2,500 m (8,200 ft) on rocky sites, such as 
north-facing boulder talus or subalpine cirques in forest openings 
(Magoun and Copeland 1994, pp. 1315-1316). In Montana, natal dens occur 
above 2,400 m (7,874 ft) and are located on north aspects in avalanche 
debris, typically in alpine habitats near timberline (Inman et al. 
2007c, pp. 71-72). Offspring are born from mid-February through March, 
and the dens are typically used through late April or early May 
(Myrberget 1968, p. 115; Magoun and Copeland 1998, pp. 1314-1317; Inman 
et al. 2007b, pp. 55-59). Occupation of natal dens is variable, ranging 
from approximately 9 to 65 days (Magoun and Copeland 1998, pp. 1316-
1317).
    Females may move kits to multiple secondary (maternal) dens as they 
grow during the month of May (Pulliainen 1968, p. 343; Myrberget 1968, 
p. 115), although use of maternal dens may be minimal (Inman et al. 
2007c, p. 69). Timing of den abandonment is related to accumulation of 
water in dens (due to snow melt), the maturation of offspring, 
disturbance, and geographic location (Myrberget 1968, p. 115; Magoun 
1985, p. 73). After using natal and maternal dens, wolverines may also 
use rendezvous sites through early July. These sites are characterized 
by natural (unexcavated) cavities formed by large boulders, downed logs 
(avalanche debris), and snow (Inman et al. 2007c, p. 55-56).
Habitat, Space, and Food
    In North America, wolverines occur within a wide variety of alpine, 
boreal, and arctic habitats, including boreal forests, tundra, and 
western mountains throughout Alaska and Canada. The southern portion of 
the species' range extends into the contiguous United States, including 
high-elevation alpine portions of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, 
California, and Colorado (Wilson 1982, p. 644; Hash 1987, p. 576; Banci 
1994, p. 102, Pasitschniak-Arts and Lariviere 1995, p. 499; Aubry et 
al. 2007, p. 2152; Moriarty et al. 2009, entire; Inman et al. 2009, pp. 
22-25). Wolverines do not appear to specialize on specific vegetation 
or geological habitat aspects, but instead select areas that are cold 
and receive enough winter precipitation to reliably maintain deep 
persistent snow late into the warm season (Copeland et al. 2010, 
entire). The requirement of cold, snowy conditions means that, in the 
southern portion of the species' range where ambient temperatures are 
warmest, wolverine distribution is restricted to high elevations, while 
at more northerly latitudes, wolverines are present at lower elevations 
and even at sea level in the far north (Copeland et al. 2010, Figure 
1).
    In the contiguous United States, wolverines likely exist as a 
metapopulation (Aubry et al. 2007, p. 2147, Figures 1, 3). A 
metapopulation is a network of semi-isolated populations, each 
occupying a suitable patch of habitat in a landscape of otherwise 
unsuitable habitat (Pulliam and Dunning 1997, pp. 212-214). 
Metapopulations require some level of regular or intermittent migration 
and gene flow among subpopulations, in which individual populations 
support one-another by providing genetic and demographic enrichment 
through mutual exchange of individuals (Meffe and Carroll 1997, p. 
678). Individual subpopulations may go extinct or lose genetic 
viability, but are then ``rescued'' by immigration from other 
subpopulations, thus ensuring the persistence of the metapopulation as 
a whole. Metapopulation dynamics (the process of extinction and 
recolonization by subpopulations) rely on the ability of subpopulations 
to support one another through exchange of individuals for genetic and 
demographic enrichment. If

[[Page 78032]]

metapopulation dynamics break down, either due to changes within 
subpopulations or loss of connectivity, then the entire metapopulation 
may be jeopardized due to subpopulations becoming unable to persist in 
the face of inbreeding or demographic and environmental stochasticity 
(Pulliam and Dunning 1997b, pp. 221-222). We believe this outcome is 
likely for wolverine, due to their naturally low reproductive rates and 
low densities.
    Wolverines are opportunistic feeders and consume a variety of foods 
depending on availability. They primarily scavenge carrion, but also 
prey on small animals and birds, and eat fruits, berries, and insects 
(Hornocker and Hash 1981, p. 1290; Hash 1987, p. 579; Banci 1994, pp. 
111-113). Wolverines have an excellent sense of smell that enables them 
to find food beneath deep snow (Hornocker and Hash 1981, p. 1297).
    Wolverines require a lot of space; the availability and 
distribution of food is likely the primary factor in determining 
wolverine movements and home range size (Hornocker and Hash 1981, p. 
1298; Banci 1994, pp. 117-118). Female wolverines forage close to den 
sites in early summer, progressively ranging further from dens as kits 
become more independent (May et al. 2010, p. 941). Wolverines travel 
long distances over rough terrain and deep snow, and adult males 
generally cover greater distances than females (Hornocker and Hash 
1981, p. 1298; Banci 1994, pp. 117-118; Moriarty et al. 2009, entire; 
Inman et al. 2009, pp. 22-28; Brian 2010, p. 3; Copeland and Yates 
2006, Figure 9). Home ranges of wolverines are large, and vary greatly 
in size depending on availability of food, gender and age of the 
animal, and differences in habitat quality. Home ranges of adult 
wolverines also vary in size depending on geographic location. Home 
ranges in Alaska were approximately 100 square kilometers (km\2\) to 
over 900 km\2\ (38.5 square miles (mi\2\) to 348 mi\2\) (Banci 1994, p. 
117). Average home ranges of resident adult females in central Idaho 
were 384 km\2\ (148 mi\2\), and average home ranges of resident adult 
males were 1,522 km\2\ (588 mi\2\) (Copeland 1996, p. 50). Wolverines 
in Glacier National Park had average adult male home ranges of 496 
km\2\ (193 mi\2\) and adult female home ranges of 141 km\2\ (55 mi\2\) 
(Copeland and Yates 2006, p. 25). Wolverines in the Greater Yellowstone 
Ecosystem had average adult male home ranges of 797 km\2\ (311 mi\2\), 
and average adult female home ranges of 329 km\2\ (128 mi\2\) (Inman et 
al. 2007a, p. 4). These home range sizes are large relative to the body 
size of wolverines, and may indicate that wolverines occupy a 
relatively unproductive niche in which they must forage over large 
areas to consume the amount of calories needed to meet their life-
history requirements (Inman et al. 2007a, p. 11).
Wolverine Densities
    Wolverines naturally occur in low densities of about 1 wolverine 
per 150 km\2\ (58 mi\2\) with a reported range from 1 per 65 to 337 
km\2\ (25 to 130 mi\2\) (Hornocker and Hash 1981, pp. 1292-1295; Hash 
1987, p. 578; Copeland 1996, pp. 31-32; Copeland and Yates 2006, p. 27; 
Inman et al. 2007a, p. 10; Squires et al. 2007, p. 2218). No systematic 
population census exists over the entire current range of wolverines in 
the contiguous United States, so the current population level and 
trends remain unknown. However, based on our current knowledge of 
occupied wolverine habitat and wolverine densities in this habitat, it 
is reasonable to estimate that the wolverine population in the 
contiguous United States numbers approximately 250 to 300 individuals 
(Inman 2010b, pers. comm.). The bulk of the current population occurs 
in the northern Rocky Mountains with a few individuals in the North 
Cascades and one known individual each in the Sierra Nevada and 
southern Rocky Mountains. Within the area known to currently have 
wolverine populations relatively few wolverines can coexist due to 
their naturally low population densities, even if all areas were 
occupied at or near carrying capacity. Given the natural limitations on 
wolverine population density, it is likely that historic wolverine 
population numbers were also low (Inman et al. 2007a, Table 6). Because 
of these natural limitations, we believe that densities and population 
levels in the northern Rocky Mountains and North Cascades where 
populations currently exist are likely not substantially lower than 
population densities were in these areas prior to European settlement. 
However, historically, the contiguous U.S. population would have been 
larger than it is today due to the larger area occupied by populations 
when the southern Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada were occupied at 
full capacity.
Wolverine Status in Canada and Alaska
    The bulk of the range of North American wolverines is found in 
Canada and Alaska. Wolverines inhabit alpine tundra, boreal forest, and 
arctic habitats in Canada and Alaska (Slough 2007, p. 78). Wolverines 
in Canada have been divided into two populations for management by the 
Canadian Government: An eastern population in Labrador and Quebec, and 
a western population that extends from Ontario to the Pacific coast, 
and north to the Arctic Ocean. The eastern population is currently 
listed as endangered under the Species At Risk Act in Canada, and the 
western population is designated as a species of special concern 
(COSEWIC 2003, p. 8).
    The current status of wolverines in eastern Canada is uncertain. 
Wolverines have not been confirmed to occur in Quebec since 1978 
(Fortin et al. 2005, p. 4). Historical evidence of wolverine presence 
in eastern Canada is also suspect because no proof exists to show that 
wolverine pelts attributed to Quebec or Labrador actually came from 
that region; animals were possibly trapped elsewhere and the pelts 
shipped through the eastern provinces (COSEWIC 2003, p. 20). Wolverines 
in eastern Canada may currently exist in an extremely low-density 
population, or may be extirpated. Wolverines in eastern Canada, both 
historically and currently, could represent migrants from western 
populations that never became resident animals (COSEWIC 2003, pp. 20-
21). The Federal Government of Canada has completed a recovery plan for 
the eastern population with the goal of establishing a self-sustaining 
population through reintroduction and protection (Fortin et al. 2005, 
p. 16).
    Wolverines in western Canada and Alaska inhabit a variety of 
habitats from sea level to high in mountains (Slough 2007, pp. 77-78). 
They occur in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British 
Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut (Slough 2007, pp. 
77-78). Since European colonization, a generally recognized range 
contraction has taken place in boreal Ontario and the aspen parklands 
of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta (COSEWIC 2003, pp. 20-21; Slough 
2007, p. 77). This range contraction occurred concurrently with a 
reduction in wolverine records for the Great Lakes region in the 
contiguous United States (Aubry et al. 2007, pp. 2155-2156). Causes of 
these changes are uncertain, but may be related to increased harvest, 
habitat modification, or climate change (COSEWIC 2003, pp. 20-21; Aubry 
et al. 2007, pp. 2155-2156; Slough 2007, pp. 77-78). Analysis supports 
climate change as a contributing factor to declines in southern 
Ontario, because snow conditions necessary to support wolverines do not 
currently exist in the Great Lakes region of the contiguous United 
States, and are marginal in southern Ontario (Aubry et al. 2007, p. 
2154). It is not known if these snow

[[Page 78033]]

conditions existed historically in the Great Lakes of the contiguous 
United States, however, the small number of wolverine records from this 
area suggests that they did not. It is possible that suitable snow 
conditions did reach further south in eastern Canada in 1850 than they 
do today, making wolverine dispersal attempts from Canada to the Great 
Lakes region of the contiguous United States more likely than they are 
now. Wolverines occurred historically on Vancouver Island and have been 
given status as a separate subspecies by some (Hall 1981, p. 109). The 
Vancouver Island population is now regarded as possibly extirpated; no 
sightings have occurred since 1992 (COSEWIC 2003, p. 18).
    Wolverines in western Canada and Alaska appear to persist 
everywhere that habitat and climate conditions are suitable (COSEWIC 
2003, pp. 13-21; Aubry et al. 2007, pp. 2152-2155; Slough 2007, p. 79; 
Copeland et al. 2010, Figure 2). Throughout this area, wolverines are 
managed by regulated harvest at the Provincial and State level. 
Population estimates for Canada and Alaska are rough because no 
wolverine surveys have taken place at the State or Provincial scale. 
However, the population in western Canada is estimated to include 
approximately 15,089 to 18,967 individuals (COSEWIC 2003, p. 22). The 
number of wolverines in Alaska is unknown, but they appear to exist at 
naturally low densities in suitable habitats throughout Alaska (Alaska 
Department of Fish and Game 2004, pp. 1-359). We have no information to 
indicate that wolverine populations have been reduced in numbers or 
geographic range in Alaska.
The Complexity of Geographic Range Delineation
    Delineating wolverine historical and present range is inherently 
difficult for several reasons. Wolverines tend to live in remote and 
inhospitable places away from human populations where they are seldom 
encountered, documented, or studied. Wolverines naturally occur at low 
population densities and are rarely and unpredictably encountered where 
they do occur. Wolverines often move long distances in short periods of 
time, when dispersing from natal ranges, into habitats that are 
unsuitable for long-term survival (Aubry et al. 2007, p. 2147; Moriarty 
et al. 2009, entire; Inman et al. 2009, pp. 22-28; Brian 2010, p. 3). 
Such movements make it difficult to distinguish with certainty between 
occurrence records that represent established populations and those 
that represent short-term occupancy or exploratory movements without 
the potential for establishment of home ranges, reproduction, and 
eventually populations. These natural attributes of wolverines make it 
difficult to precisely determine their present range, or trends in 
range expansion or contraction that may have occurred in the past. 
Therefore, we must be cautious and use multiple lines of evidence when 
trying to determine where past wolverine populations occurred.
    Throughout the remainder of this finding, we focus on the use of 
verifiable and documented wolverine occurrence records to define 
historic and present range because we have determined that these 
records constitute the best scientific information available on the 
past and present distribution of wolverines (See Aubry et al. 2007, p. 
2148). Verifiable records are records supported by physical evidence 
such as museum specimens, harvested pelts, DNA samples, and diagnostic 
photographs. Documented records are those based on accounts of 
wolverines being killed or captured. Use of only verifiable and 
documented records avoids mistakes of misidentification often made in 
eyewitness accounts of visual encounters. Visual-encounter records 
often represent the majority of occurrence records for elusive forest 
carnivores, and their inherently high rate of misidentification of the 
species involved can result in wildly inaccurate conclusions about 
species occurrence (McKelvey et al. 2008, entire). The paper by Aubry 
et al. (2007, entire) utilized only verifiable and documented records 
to investigate wolverine distribution through time. This paper is the 
only available comprehensive treatment of these distribution patterns 
that attempts to distinguish between records that represent resident 
animals versus animals that have dispersed outside of suitable habitat. 
For these reasons we believe that Aubry et al. (2007, entire) 
represents the best available summary of wolverine occurrence records 
in the contiguous United States at this time. Since the publication of 
Aubry et al. (2007, entire), verified records of wolverine have also 
been documented in Colorado and California, which we will describe in 
greater detail below.
    Aubry et al. (2007, entire) used verifiable and documented records 
from museum collections, literature sources, and State and Federal 
institutions to trace changes in geographic distribution of wolverines 
in the historic record. They then used an overlay of suitable wolverine 
habitats to further refine which records represent wolverines in 
habitats that may support residency, and by extension, populations, and 
which records likely represent wolverines outside the range of suitable 
habitats, so called ``extralimital'' records. Aubry et al.'s (2007, 
entire) focus on verifiable and documented records corrected past 
overly broad approaches to wolverine range mapping (Nowak 1973, p. 22; 
Hall 1981, p. 1009; Wilson 1982, p. 644; Hash 1987, p. 576) that used a 
more inclusive but potentially misleading approach when dealing with 
occurrence records. Many of the extralimital records used in these 
publications represent individuals dispersing from natal ranges that 
ended up in habitats that cannot support wolverines, and the use of 
this data to determine the historic geographic range of wolverines 
results in gross overestimation of the area that can actually be used 
successfully by wolverines for the establishment of populations. 
Subsequent to publication of Aubry et al. (2007, entire), Copeland et 
al. (2010, entire) further refined our understanding of wolverine 
habitat needs and corroborated the approach of Aubry et al. (2007, 
entire).
    We agree with Aubry et al. (2007, p. 2149) that the most 
appropriate method to determine the current and historic range of 
wolverines is to use a combination of occurrence records and habitat 
suitability, along with other information, such as documented 
successful reproduction events, that indicate where reproductive and 
potentially self-sustaining populations may occur. We also generally 
agree with their conclusions about the historic and current range of 
the species. We believe that the species' range is the area that may 
support viable populations, and does not include extralimital 
occurrences outside of habitat that is likely to support wolverine 
life-history needs. Areas that can support wolverine populations may be 
referred to as potential ``source'' populations because they provide 
surplus individuals through reproduction beyond what is needed for 
replacement. Areas that do not have the habitat to support viable 
populations may be referred to as population ``sinks'' because 
wolverines may disperse to these areas and remain for some time, but 
will either die there without reproducing, leave the area in search of 
better habitat conditions, or may actually reproduce, but at a rate 
lower than that needed for replacement of individuals lost to mortality 
or emigration, leading to eventual population extinction. For a widely 
dispersing species like wolverines, we expect many locality records to 
represent dispersers into sink habitats. The value to the population 
(and thus

[[Page 78034]]

the DPS) of these dispersers in sink habitat is unclear; however, it is 
likely that most dispersers into sink habitats will be lost to the 
population unless they are able to move back into source habitats. 
Therefore, it is our belief that population sink areas, here defined as 
places where wolverines may be found but where habitat is not suitable 
for long-term occupancy and reproduction, do not represent part of the 
species historic range and have little conservation value for the DPS, 
other than possibly serving as way-stations for attempted dispersers as 
they search for suitable habitats. This approach to defining historic 
range results in reducing the bias of extralimital dispersers and 
concentrates conservation attention on areas capable of maintaining 
populations, and is more in keeping with the intentions of the Act, 
than broader depictions of geographic range.
    Aubry et al. (2007, pp. 2147-2148) divided records into 
``historical'' (recorded prior to 1961), ``recent'' (recorded between 
1961 and 1994), and ``current'' (recorded after 1994). Historical 
records occurred before systematic surveys. Historical records 
encompass the time during which wolverine numbers and distribution were 
hypothesized to be at their highest (prior to European settlement) and 
also at their lowest (early 20th Century) (Wright and Thompson 1935; 
Grinnell et al. 1937; Allen 1942; Newby and Wright 1955, all as cited 
in Aubry et al. 2007, p. 2148). The recent time interval covers a 
hypothesized population expansion and rebound from the early 20th 
Century low. Current records offer the most recent evidence available 
for wolverine occurrences and potential populations. We believe all 
occurrence records must be individually analyzed in light of their 
context in terms of habitat conditions conducive to wolverine 
population establishment and whether or not they occur clustered with 
other records, which might indicate that populations have historically 
occurred in the area. The authors of Aubry et al. (2007) did such an 
analysis as they compiled their records.

Wolverine Distribution

    Of 729 mappable records (those records with precise location 
information) compiled by Aubry et al. (2007, p. 2150), 188 were from 
the historical time interval (see Figure 1). We assessed the 
historical, recent, and current distribution data for each of the 
regions below to determine the likelihood of the presence of historical 
populations (rather than extralimital dispersers). The discussion below 
draws heavily from both Aubry et al. (2007, entire) and Copeland et al. 
(2010, entire).

                   Table 1--Wolverine Records From Three Time Periods From Aubry et al. 2007.
[Numbers Represent Total Documented and Verifiable Records With the Subset of Those Records That Were Verifiable
                                                 in Parentheses]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Historical  (<  Recent  (1961-    Current  (>
                                                                       1964)           1994)           1994)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northeast.......................................................          13 (1)               0               0
Upper Midwest...................................................           4 (2)               0               0
Great Lakes.....................................................          36 (4)               1               0
Central Great Plains............................................        71 * (2)               1               0
Rocky Mountains.................................................        147 (45)       332 (283)       215 (210)
Pacific Coast...................................................         89 (14)         23 (15)               7
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Totals......................................................        362 (68)       357 (298)       222 (210)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* 35 records from a single source (the journals of Alexander Henry).

    Northeast and Upper Midwest--The low number of records and 
scattered nature of their distribution combined with a lack of suitable 
habitat indicate that wolverines were likely only occasional transients 
to the area and not present as a reproducing population after 1800.
    Great Lakes--The lack of large numbers of verifiable records in 
this area of relatively high human population density and the lack of 
suitable habitat suggests that wolverines did not exist in this area as 
a viable population after 1900. Widely scattered records generally 
before 1900, with an occasional record after that year, suggest that if 
a reproducing population existed in the Great Lakes, it predated 1900, 
and that post-1900 records represent dispersal from a receding Canadian 
population. Wolverine distribution in Ontario, Canada, appears to have 
receded north from the Great Lakes region since the 1800s, and 
currently wolverines occupy only the northern portion of the province, 
a distance of over 400 miles from the U.S. border (COSEWIC 2003, p. 9). 
The pattern of record distribution illustrated in Aubry et al. (2007, 
p. 2152) is consistent with what would be expected if those records 
were of dispersing individuals from a Canadian population that receded 
progressively further north into Canada after 1900, possibly due to 
natural climate changes.
    Central Great Plains--The lack of precise locality records and 
suitable habitat from the Great Plains States leads us to conclude that 
reproducing populations of wolverines did not historically inhabit this 
area. Thirty-five of thirty-six records from North Dakota are from the 
journals of a single fur trader (see Table 1), and it is not clear that 
the records represent actual collection localities or are localities 
where trades or shipments occurred (Aubry 2007, pers. comm.). Given the 
habitat relationships of wolverines (e.g., Copeland et al. 2010, Figure 
1), it is unlikely that these records represent established wolverines 
or that this area was in any way wolverine habitat.
    Rocky Mountains--Five Rocky Mountains States (Idaho, Montana, 
Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah) contained numerous wolverine records. 
Records with precise locality information appear to coalesce around 
several areas that may have been population centers, such as central 
Colorado, the greater Yellowstone region, and northern Idaho-
northwestern Montana. The large number of verifiable and documented 
records for this region, along with the suggestion of population 
centers or strongholds, suggests that wolverines existed in reproducing 
populations throughout much of the Rocky Mountains during the 
historical time interval. The lack of records for Colorado and Utah 
after 1921 suggests that the southern Rocky Mountain population of 
wolverines was extirpated in the early 1900s, concurrent with

[[Page 78035]]

widespread systematic predator control by government agencies and 
livestock interests. The northern Rocky Mountain population (north of 
Wyoming) was reduced to historic lows or possibly even extirpated 
during the early 1900s, and then increased dramatically in the second 
half of the 1900s (see Table 1) as predator control efforts subsided 
and trapping regulations became more restrictive (Aubry et al. 2007, p. 
2151). This increase likely indicates a population rebound from 
historic lows in this period.
    Wolverine records from 1995 to 2005 indicate that wolverine 
populations currently exist in the northern Rocky Mountains (see Table 
1). Legal trapping in Montana in the recent past removed an average of 
10.5 individuals from this population each year (Montana Department of 
Fish, Wildlife, and Parks 2007, p. 2), and harvest mortality has been 
reduced due to regulatory changes in 2008 (Montana Department of Fish, 
Wildlife and Parks 2008, p. 8). Populations in British Columbia and 
Alberta, Canada, are extant (COSEWIC 2003, pp. 18-19), and may have 
been a source of surplus wolverines to the contiguous U.S. population 
during population lows. Recently, a male wolverine moved on its own 
from the southern Greater Yellowstone Area of Wyoming into the southern 
Rocky Mountains of Colorado where it still persisted as of August 2010 
(Inman et al. 2009, pp. 22-26; Inman 2010, pers. comm.). This attempted 
dispersal event is the first verified wolverine occurrence in Colorado 
since 1919 and may represent a continuation of the wolverine expansion 
in the Rocky Mountains detailed above. It is possible that other 
wolverines have travelled to the southern Rocky Mountains and have 
remained undetected. There is no evidence that Colorado currently hosts 
a wolverine population or that female wolverines have made, or are 
likely to make, similar movements.
    Pacific Coast--Historically, wolverines occurred in two population 
centers in the North Cascades Range and the Sierra Nevada. These areas 
are separated by an area with no historic records (southern Oregon and 
northern California), indicating that the historical distribution of 
wolverines in this area is best represented by two disjunct populations 
rather than a continuous peninsular extension from Canada. This 
conclusion is supported by genetic data indicating that the Sierra 
Nevada and Cascades wolverines were separated for at least 2,000 years 
prior to extirpation of the Sierra Nevada population (Schwartz et al. 
2007, p. 2174).
    Only one Sierra Nevada record exists after 1930, indicating that 
this population was likely extirpated in the first half of the 1900s 
concurrent with widespread systematic predator control programs. In 
2008, a male wolverine was discovered in the Sierra Nevada Range of 
California, the first verified record from California since 1922 
(Moriarty et al. 2009, entire). Genetic testing revealed that this 
wolverine was not a descendant of the endemic Sierra Nevada wolverine 
population, but was likely derived from wolverines in the Rocky 
Mountains (Moriarty et al. 2009, p. 159). This attempted dispersal 
event may represent a continuation of the wolverine expansion in the 
contiguous United States as detailed above. Other wolverines may have 
traveled to the Sierra Nevada and remain undetected. There is no 
evidence that California currently hosts a wolverine population or that 
female wolverines have made or are likely to make similar dispersal 
movements.
    Wolverines were likely extirpated from the North Cascades in the 
early 20th century and then recently recolonized from Canada. 
Currently, a small population persists in this area (Aubrey et al. 
2009, entire). The Northern Cascades population may be connected with, 
and is possibly dependent on, the larger Canadian population for future 
expansion and long-term persistence.

Summary of Wolverine Distribution

    Historical wolverine records were found across the northern tier of 
the contiguous United States with convincing evidence of wolverine 
populations in the northern and southern Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada 
Mountains, and North Cascades Mountains (Aubry et al. 2007, p. 2152).
    Currently, wolverines appear to be distributed as functioning 
populations in two regions in the contiguous United States: The North 
Cascades in Washington, and the northern Rocky Mountains in Idaho, 
Montana, and Wyoming. Wolverines were likely extirpated, or nearly so, 
from the entire contiguous United States in the first half of the 20th 
Century (Aubry et al. 2007, Table 1). The available evidence suggests 
that, in the second half of the 20th Century and continuing into the 
present time, wolverine populations have expanded in the North Cascades 
and the northern Rocky Mountains, but that populations have not been 
reestablished in the Sierra Nevada Range or the southern Rocky 
Mountains. We conclude that the current range of the species in the 
contiguous United States includes the North Cascades Mountains, the 
northern Rocky Mountains, the southern Rocky Mountains, and the Sierra 
Nevada Mountains, but that reestablishment of populations in the 
southern Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada has not yet occurred.
    We also conclude that wolverines either did not exist as 
established populations, or were extirpated prior to settlement and the 
compilation of historical records, in the Great Lakes region, possibly 
due to climate changes that occurred through the 1800s and 1900s. The 
Great Lakes region lacks suitable wolverine habitat, and suitable 
habitat does not appear to exist in adjacent Canada (Copeland et al. 
2010, Figure 1). The widely scattered records from this region are 
consistent with dispersing individuals from a Canadian population that 
receded north early in the 1800s. We cannot rule out the possibility 
that wolverines existed as established populations prior to the onset 
of trapping in this area, but we have no reliable evidence that they 
did.
    No reliable evidence in the historical records indicates that 
wolverines were ever present as established populations in the Great 
Plains, Midwest, or Northeast.

Habitat Relationships and Wolverine Distribution

    Deep, persistent, and reliable spring snow cover (April 15 to May 
14) is the best overall predictor of wolverine occurrence in the 
contiguous United States (Aubry et al. 2007, pp. 2152-2156; Copeland et 
al. 2010, entire). Deep persistent snow correlates well with wolverine 
year-round habitat use across wolverine distribution in North America 
and Eurasia at both regional and local scales (Copeland et al. 2010, 
entire). It is uncertain why spring snow cover so accurately predicts 
wolverine habitat use; however, it is likely related to wolverines' 
need for deep snow during the denning period, and also wolverines' 
physiological requirement for year-round cold temperatures (Copeland et 
al. 2010, pp. 242-243). Snow cover during the denning period is 
essential for successful wolverine reproduction range-wide (Hatler 
1989, p. iv; Magoun and Copeland 1998, p. 1317; Inman et al. 2007c, pp. 
71-72; Persson 2007; Copeland et al. 2010, p. 244). Wolverine dens tend 
to be in areas of high structural diversity such as logs and boulders 
with deep snow (Magoun and Copeland 1998, p. 1317; Inman et al. 2007c, 
pp. 71-72; Persson 2007, entire). Reproductive females dig deep snow 
tunnels to reach the protective structure provided by logs and 
boulders. This behavior presumably protects the

[[Page 78036]]

vulnerable kits from predation by large carnivores, including other 
wolverines (Pulliainen 1968, p. 342; Zyryanov 1989, pp. 3-12), but may 
also have physiological benefits for kits by buffering them from 
extreme cold, wind, and desiccation (Pullianen 1968, p. 342, 
Bj[auml]rvall et al. 1978, p. 23). Wolverines live in low-temperature 
conditions and appear to select habitats in part to avoid high summer 
temperatures (Copeland et al. 2010, p. 242). Wolverine distribution is 
likely affected by climatic conditions at two different scales. 
Wolverines require deep persistent snow for denning, and this likely 
determines where wolverine populations can be found at the grossest 
range-wide scale (Copeland et al. 2010, p. 244). At smaller scales, 
wolverines likely select habitats to avoid high summer temperatures. 
These cool habitats also tend to retain snow late into spring, leading 
to wolverines' year-round association with areas of persistent spring 
snow (Copeland et al. 2010, p. 244).
    All of the areas in the contiguous United States for which good 
evidence of persistent wolverine populations (either present or 
historic) exists (i.e., North Cascades, Sierra Nevada, northern and 
southern Rocky Mountains) contain large and well-distributed areas of 
deep snow cover that persists through the wolverine denning period 
(Brock et al. 2007, pp. 36-53; Aubry et al. 2007, p. 2154; Copeland et 
al. 2010, Figure 1). The Great Plains, Great Lakes, Midwest, and 
Northeast lack the spring snow conditions and low summer temperatures 
thought to be required by wolverines for successful reproduction and 
year-round occupancy (Aubry et al. 2007, p. 2154; Copeland et al. 2010, 
Figure 1). The lack of persistent spring snow conditions in the Great 
Plains, Great Lakes, Midwest, and Northeast supports the exclusion of 
these areas from the current range of wolverines. Whether wolverines 
once existed as established populations in any of these regions is 
uncertain, but the current climate appears to preclude their presence 
as reproducing populations now, and the sparse historical record of 
wolverine presence in this area makes historic occupation of these 
areas by wolverine populations doubtful. It is our conclusion that the 
ecosystem that supports wolverines does not exist in these areas 
currently, and may never have existed in the past.
    Large areas of habitat with characteristics suitable for wolverines 
still occur in the southern Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada, despite 
the extirpation of wolverines from those areas (Aubry et al. 2007, p. 
2154, Brock et al. 2007, p. 26; Copeland et al. 2010, Figure 1). 
Wolverine extirpations in these areas were coincident with systematic 
predator eradication efforts in the early 1900s, which have been 
discontinued for many years. Each of these areas has received at least 
one and possibly more migrants from adjacent populations in the 
northern Rocky Mountains; however, there is no evidence that females 
have migrated to these areas or that populations of wolverines exist in 
them (Aubry et al. 2007, Table 1; Moriarty et al. 2009, entire; Inman 
et al. 2009, entire).
    We conclude that areas of wolverine historical occurrence can be 
placed in one of three categories: (1) Areas where wolverines are 
extant as reproducing and potentially self-sustaining populations 
(North Cascades, northern Rocky Mountains); (2) areas where wolverines 
historically existed as reproducing and potentially self-sustaining 
populations prior to human-induced extirpation, and where 
reestablishment of those populations is possible given current habitat 
condition and management (the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California and 
southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah); 
and (3) areas where historical presence of wolverines in reproducing 
and potentially self-sustaining populations is doubtful, and where the 
current habitat conditions preclude the establishment of populations 
(Great Plains, Midwest, Great Lakes, and Northeast). We, therefore, 
consider the current range of wolverines to include suitable habitat in 
the North Cascades of Washington and possibly Oregon, the northern 
Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, the southern Rocky 
Mountains of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, and the Sierra Nevada of 
California. We here include the Sierra Nevada and southern Rocky 
Mountains in the current range of wolverines despite the probability 
that functional populations do not exist in these areas. They are 
included due to the known existence of one individual in each area and 
the possibility that more, as yet undetected, individuals inhabit these 
areas.

Distinct Population Segment

    Pursuant to the Act, we must consider for listing any species, 
subspecies, or, for vertebrates, any Distinct Population Segment (DPS) 
of these taxa, if there is sufficient information to indicate that such 
action may be warranted. To interpret and implement the DPS provision 
of the Act and Congressional guidance, the Service and the National 
Marine Fisheries Service published, on February 7, 1996, an interagency 
Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population 
Segments under the Act (61 FR 4722). This policy addresses the 
recognition of DPSs for potential listing actions. The policy allows 
for more refined application of the Act that better reflects the 
biological needs of the taxon being considered, and avoids the 
inclusion of entities that do not require its protective measures.
    Under our DPS policy, three elements are considered in a decision 
regarding the status of a possible DPS as endangered or threatened 
under the Act. These are applied similarly for additions to the list of 
endangered and threatened species, reclassification, and removal from 
the list. They are: (1) Discreteness of the population segment in 
relation to the remainder of the taxon; (2) the biological or 
ecological significance of the population segment to the taxon to which 
it belongs; and (3) the population segment's conservation status in 
relation to the Act's standards for listing (i.e., whether the 
population segment is, when treated as if it were a species or 
subspecies, endangered or threatened). Discreteness refers to the 
degree of isolation of a population from other members of the species, 
and we evaluate this based on specific criteria. If a population 
segment is considered discrete, we must consider whether the discrete 
segment is ``significant'' to the taxon to which it belongs by using 
the best available scientific and commercial information. If we 
determine that a population segment is both discrete and significant, 
we then evaluate it for endangered or threatened status based on the 
Act's standards. The DPS evaluation in this finding concerns the 
segment of the wolverine species occurring within the 48 States, 
including the northern and southern Rocky Mountain physiographic 
provinces, Sierra Nevada Range, and North Cascades Range.

Distinct Population Segment Analysis for Wolverine in the Contiguous 
United States

Analysis of Discreteness

    Under our DPS Policy, a population segment of a vertebrate species 
may be considered discrete if it satisfies either one of the following 
conditions: (1) It is markedly separated from other populations of the 
same taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or 
behavioral factors (quantitative measures of genetic or morphological 
discontinuity may provide evidence of this separation); or (2) it is 
delimited by international governmental boundaries within which

[[Page 78037]]

differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are 
significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act (inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms). The wolverine within the contiguous 
United States meets the second DPS discreteness condition because of 
differences in conservation status as delimited by the Canadian-U.S. 
international governmental boundary.
Discreteness Based on the International Border--Differences in 
Conservation Status
    We find that differences in conservation status of the wolverine 
between the United States and Canada are substantial and significant in 
light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act. In the remaining current range 
in Canada-Alaska, wolverines exist in well-distributed, interconnected, 
large populations. Conversely, wolverine populations in the remaining 
U.S. range appear to be at numbers so low that their continued 
existence could be at risk, especially as considered in light of the 
five threat factors discussed below. These risks come from three main 
factors: (1) Small total population size; (2) effective population size 
below that needed to maintain genetic diversity and demographic 
stability; and (3) the fragmented nature of wolverine habitat in the 
contiguous United States that results in smaller, isolated ``sky 
island'' patches separated by unsuitable habitats. It is apparent that 
maintaining wolverines within their native range in the contiguous 
United States into the future is likely to require regulatory 
mechanisms that are not currently in place. These three factors are 
explained in more detail below.
    The total population sizes for Canada-Alaska and the contiguous 
United States differ by more than an order of magnitude. The contiguous 
U.S. population likely numbers approximately 250 to 300 individuals 
(Inman 2010b, pers. comm.). This contrasts with western Canada, where 
wolverine populations are estimated at 15,089 to 18,967 individuals 
(COSEWIC 2003, p. 22). Wolverine population size in Alaska is unknown; 
however, the average annual harvest exceeds 500 individuals and the 
population does not appear to be in decline (Alaska Department of Fish 
and Game 2004, entire), indicating that the population is likely to 
number over ten thousand individuals (calculated using demographic data 
in Lofroth and Ott 2007, pp. 2196-2198; assumes sustainable harvest). 
The difference in total population size coincides with the 
international boundary between the contiguous United States and Canada. 
Wolverine populations number 2,089-3,567 in British Columbia and 1,500-
2,000 in Alberta (COSEWIC 2003, p. 22), the two provinces immediately 
adjacent to the contiguous U.S. wolverine population. The difference in 
total population sizes is significant because critically small 
populations such as those in the contiguous United States face higher 
extinction risk than large ones such as the Canada-Alaska population. 
Therefore, the contiguous U.S. population is more vulnerable to 
extinction, and thus of poor conservation status, relative to the more 
secure Canada-Alaska population.
    Wolverines in Canada's eastern provinces are listed under the 
Species at Risk Act of Canada. Wolverines in the eastern provinces 
appear to have been extirpated by the early 20th century (COSEWIC 2003, 
p. 20). There is a general lack of reliable historic information on 
wolverines in this area, and significant doubt exists about whether a 
population ever occurred there historically (COSEWIC 2003, p. 20). For 
the purposes of this finding, we considered the Canadian wolverine 
population to include only wolverines from Ontario west to the Pacific 
coast and Alaska, and assumed that wolverines in eastern Canada were 
either extirpated or are at such low numbers as not to be part of a 
functioning population. It is our determination that the conservation 
status of the eastern population, if it does indeed exist, is not 
relevant to the discreteness analysis for this DPS for the following 
reasons: (1) If wolverines currently reside in the eastern Canadian 
Provinces, they are likely disjunct from wolverines in western Canada 
(COSEWIC 2003, Figure 3); and (2) there is significant doubt that 
wolverine populations existed in this part of Canada historically, so 
the current lack of evidence of a population may not represent a 
degradation of species status in this area (COSEWIC 2003, pp. 20-21).
    The second substantial difference in wolverine status between the 
contiguous United States and Canada is reflected in the size of the 
effective populations. Population ecologists use the concept of a 
population's ``effective'' size as a measure of the proportion of the 
actual population that contributes to future generations (for a review 
of effective population size, see Schwartz et al. 1998, entire). In a 
population where all of the individuals contribute offspring equally, 
effective population size would equal true population size. For 
populations where contribution to the next generations is often 
unequal, effective population size will be smaller than the true or 
``census'' population size. The smaller the effective population size, 
the more reproduction is dominated by a few individuals. Effective 
population size is important because it determines rates of loss of 
genetic variation, fixation of deleterious alleles and the rate of 
inbreeding. Populations with small effective population sizes show 
reductions in population growth rates and increases in extinction 
probabilities (Leberg 1990, p. 194; Jimenez et al. 1994, pp. 272-273; 
Newman and Pilson 1997, p. 360; Saccheri et al. 1998, p. 492; Reed and 
Bryant 2000, p. 11; Schwartz and Mills 2005, p. 419; Hogg et al. 2006, 
p. 1495, 1498; Allendorf and Luikart 2007, pp. 338-342). Franklin 
(1980, as cited in Allendorf and Luikart 2007, p. 359) proposed an 
empirically based rule suggesting that for short-term (a few 
generations) maintenance of genetic diversity, effective population 
size should not be less than 50. For long-term (hundreds of 
generations) maintenance of genetic diversity, effective population 
size should not be less than 500 (for appropriate use of this rule and 
its limitations see Allendorf and Luikart 2007, pp. 359-360). Others 
suggest that even higher numbers are required to ensure that 
populations remain viable, suggesting that long-term connectivity to 
the reservoir of genetic resources in the Canadian population of 
wolverines will be required (Traill et al. 2010, p. 32).
    Wolverine effective population size in the largest extant 
population in the contiguous United States is exceptionally low 
(Schwartz personal communication 2007, entire) and is below what is 
thought necessary for short-term maintenance of genetic diversity. 
Effective population size for wolverines in the Rocky Mountains 
averaged 39 (Schwartz personal communication 2007, entire) (this study 
excluded the small population from the Crazy and Belt Mountains 
(hereafter ``CrazyBelts'') as they may be an isolated population, which 
could bias the estimate using the methods of Tallmon et al. (2007, 
entire)). Measures of the effective population sizes of the other 
populations in the contiguous United States have not been completed, 
but given their small census sizes, their effective sizes are expected 
to be smaller than for the northern Rocky Mountain population. Thus, 
wolverine effective population sizes are very low. For comparison, 
estimates of wolverine effective population size are bracketed by 
critically endangered species like the black-footed ferret (4.10) 
(Wisely et al.

[[Page 78038]]

2007, p. 3) and ocelots (2.9 to 13.9) (Janecka et al. 2007, p. 1), but 
substantially smaller than estimates for the Yellowstone Grizzly bear 
(greater than 100), which has reached the level of recovery under the 
Act (Miller and Waits 2003, p. 4338). Therefore, we conclude that 
effective population size estimates for wolverines do not suggest that 
populations are currently critically endangered, but they do suggest 
that populations are low enough that they could be vulnerable to loss 
of genetic diversity, and may require intervention in the future to 
remain viable.
    The concern with the low effective population size is highlighted 
in recent research that determined that, absent immigration, at least 
400 breeding pairs would be necessary to sustain long-term genetic 
viability of the contiguous U.S. wolverine population (Cegelski et al. 
2006, p. 197). However, the entire population is likely 250-300 (Inman 
2010b, pers. comm.), with a substantial number of these being 
nonbreeding subadults. Furthermore, the U.S. population appears to be 
split into at least five smaller subpopulations (Northern Cascades, 
CrazyBelts, Idaho, Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and Northern Montana) 
that are semi-isolated from each other, meaning that genetic exchange 
does not occur frequently enough to prevent genetic drift (changes in 
genetic composition due to random sampling in small populations) and 
loss of genetic diversity (Cegelski et al. 2006, p. 206) further 
reducing the effective population size. Based on available scientific 
and commercial information, it does not appear that any of the 
wolverine populations that historically existed in the contiguous 
United States would have had effective population sizes approaching 400 
animals. Therefore, it is likely that connectivity to Canadian 
populations to the north would have been necessary to maintain genetic 
diversity in these populations prior to European settlement.
    The concern that low effective population size may result in 
negative effects is already being realized for the contiguous U.S. 
population of wolverine. Genetic drift has occurred in the remaining 
populations in the contiguous United States: wolverines here contain 3 
of 13 haplotypes (sets of closely linked genetic markers that are 
inherited together) found in Canadian populations (Kyle and Strobeck 
2001, p. 343; Cegelski et al. 2003, pp. 2914-2915; Cegelski et al. 
2006, p. 208; Schwartz et al. 2007, p. 2176; Schwartz et al. 2009, p. 
3229). The haplotypes found in these populations are a subset of those 
in the larger Canadian population, indicating that genetic drift had 
caused a loss of genetic diversity. A single haplotype dominates the 
northern Rocky Mountain wolverine population, with 71 of 73 wolverine 
sampled expressing that haplotype (Schwartz et al. 2007, p. 2176). The 
reduced number of haplotypes indicates not only that genetic drift is 
occurring, but also that there is some level of genetic separation; if 
these populations were freely interbreeding, they would share more 
haplotypes. The reduction of haplotypes is likely a result of small 
population size and the fragmented nature of wolverine habitat in the 
United States and is consistent with an emerging pattern of reduced 
genetic variation at the southern edge of the range documented in a 
suite of boreal forest carnivores (Schwartz et al. 2007, p. 2177). 
Whether or not the wolverine population in the contiguous United States 
has suffered any deleterious effects due to this reduction in genetic 
diversity is unknown. However, based on principles of conservation 
genetics, we do expect that reduced genetic diversity would make this 
population more vulnerable to other threats due to reduced genetic 
resiliency and reduced ability to adapt to change (Allendorf and 
Luikart 2007, pp. 338-342).
    No effective population size estimate exists for populations in 
Canada or Alaska; however, because of the large and contiguous nature 
of the population and the relatively high genetic diversity in Canada 
and Alaska, there is a reasonable scientific basis to conclude that the 
effective population size is large enough that it is not a cause for 
conservation concern. None of the Canadian or Alaskan populations 
tested show signs of genetic drift or inbreeding. This information 
indicates that the population does not have a low effective population 
size.
    Reduced genetic diversity and low effective population sizes result 
in high extinction risk in animal populations (Frankham 1995, p. 795). 
The fragile nature of wolverine populations in the contiguous United 
States contrasts with Canada and Alaska where wolverines are relatively 
abundant and exist in habitats with a high level of connectivity 
(COSEWIC 2003, p.8; Slough 2007, p. 78).
    The third substantial difference in wolverine status between the 
contiguous United States and Canada is reflected by the amount and 
distribution of available habitat for the species. Habitat in the 
contiguous United States consists of small isolated ``islands'' of 
high-elevation alpine habitats separated from each other by low valleys 
of unsuitable habitats. Habitat islands are represented by areas 
containing spring snow (Copeland et al. 2010, Figure 2). Wolverine 
range in the contiguous United States is characterized by isolated 
mountain habitats dissected by lower-elevation valleys, while habitat 
in adjoining Canada comprises mostly large blocks of contiguous habitat 
(Copeland et al. 2010, Figure 2; Copeland 2010, pers. comm.). 
Wolverines occupy habitat at high elevations, generally above 2,100 m 
(6,888 ft), in the mountains of the contiguous United States. The 
intervening valleys in this area range from 975 m to 1,500 m (3,198 ft 
to 4,920 ft), and are dominated by ecosystems that are unsuitable for 
long-term wolverine presence, but do serve as routes for wolverine 
movement between suitable habitat patches. Intermountain valleys are 
increasingly becoming the sites of human residential and commercial 
developments and transportation corridors. The large distances between 
suitable wolverine habitats results in wolverines existing on an 
archipelago of suitable habitats in a sea of unsuitable habitat. The 
low population density and genetic diversity of wolverines in this area 
requires that exchange of individual wolverines between islands of 
habitat occurs to avoid inbreeding or local extinction due to 
demographic stochasticity.
    Wolverine populations in the Canadian Rocky Mountains also exist on 
habitat islands, but the islands are much larger, so that exchange of 
individuals is less critical for demographic and genetic stability. 
Further north in Canada, where cold snowy conditions occur at lower 
elevations, wolverines inhabit lower elevations and valley bottom 
habitats (COSEWIC 2003, pp. 7-8). In the far north of Canada, wolverine 
habitat extends into low-elevation valleys and the vast expanses of 
low-elevation boreal forest and tundra. For these reasons, exchange of 
wolverines between habitat islands in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is 
both more likely to occur and less critical for the long-term 
maintenance of those populations.
    In the contiguous United States, wolverines must cross unsuitable 
habitats to achieve connectivity among subpopulations, which is 
required to avert further genetic drift and loss of genetic diversity 
(Kyle and Strobeck 2002, p. 1148; Cegelski et al. 2006, pp. 208-209; 
Schwartz et al. 2009, p. 3230). The highly fragmented nature of the 
habitat in the contiguous United States contributes to the low 
effective population size for wolverines in this area, making the 
continued persistence of the population precarious relative to the 
Canadian-Alaskan population.

[[Page 78039]]

Habitats in Canada and Alaska exist in larger contiguous blocks that 
have few or no impediments to demographic or genetic connectivity with 
peripheral smaller blocks (Copeland et al. 2010, Figure 2). The 
fragmented nature and distribution of wolverine habitat in the 
contiguous United States results in a population that is highly 
vulnerable to extirpation because of lack of connectivity between 
subpopulations, it also makes them more vulnerable to external threats 
such as those analyzed under the five threat factors below.
    Conservation status of wolverines in the contiguous United States 
differs significantly with that of the Canada-Alaska population. The 
Canada-Alaska population is large, well-connected, and exists in large 
blocks of contiguous habitat. In contrast, the population in the 
contiguous United States is small in total size and is fragmented on 
small patches of suitable habitat that are separated by large areas of 
unsuitable habitat. These differences result in a Canada-Alaska 
population that is robust and better able to respond to habitat 
changes, while the contiguous United States population is vulnerable to 
changes in habitat or management. We believe that the differences in 
conservation status between the contiguous United States and Canada are 
significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act (inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms) because they reveal that the existing 
mechanisms in Canada are sufficient to maintain wolverine, while in the 
United States, the existing regulatory mechanisms are not sufficient to 
address the biological conservation concerns.
Legal Status Conveyed by National, State, and Provincial Governments
    The United States currently confers no Federal status on the 
wolverine. Each State regulates the species relative to its existing 
populations. In Washington, the wolverine is listed as State Endangered 
(Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 2010, entire). Idaho and 
Wyoming designate it as a protected nongame species (Idaho Fish and 
Game 2010, p. 4; Wyoming Game and Fish 2005, p. 4), and Montana 
regulates it as a furbearer (Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and 
Parks 2010, entire). Oregon, while currently not considered to have any 
individuals other than possible unsuccessful dispersers, has a closed 
season on trapping of wolverines. California and Colorado currently 
each have only one confirmed wolverine, and the States do not allow 
harvest.
    The Canadian Government has listed its Eastern population of 
wolverine as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in Quebec 
and Labrador, where it may be extirpated due to trapping and hunting 
and declining caribou herds (Government of Canada 2010, entire). 
Because wolverines appear to have been extirpated from this area since 
the early part of the century and their historical status as a viable 
population is uncertain, we do not consider it to be in the current 
range, and thus consider the species' status there not relevant to the 
question of whether significant differences in status exist between the 
two countries. The Western population of wolverines occurs in eight 
Provinces, two of which (British Columbia and Alberta) are contiguous 
to the wolverine range in the United States. This population in Canada 
has no status under SARA, but has a designation of Special Concern 
(Vulnerable) under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife 
in Canada (COSEWIC) (Government of Canada 2010, entire), a status that 
does not provide legal protections. British Columbia and Alberta have 
Provincial species conservation lists, which are priority-setting tools 
for establishing baseline ranks and conservation activities (Province 
of British Columbia 2002, p. 1). Both Provinces include the wolverine 
on their provincial ``blue list,'' indicating that it may be at risk 
(Peterson 1997, p. 1), except on Vancouver Island where the wolverine 
is possibly extirpated and is ``red listed'' (threatened, endangered, 
or candidate; not harvested) (Lofroth and Ott 2007, p. 2193; Province 
of British Columbia 2002, p. 2).
    In our 2008 12-month finding, we determined that differences in 
management status conveyed by the States and Provinces that regulate 
wolverine management were not significantly different from each other, 
as States and Provinces both allowed regulated harvest and there were a 
variety of regulatory mechanisms in each. Regulatory status in the 
Canadian Provinces and U.S. States regulatory status remains unchanged, 
and we continue to find no significant difference between the legal 
status of wolverines between Canada and the United States.
    While similarities exist in the legal conservation statuses 
bestowed on the wolverine in the four U.S. States where it currently 
persists, and the two adjacent Canadian Provinces, the differences in 
biological conservation status are significant and affect the future of 
the species. In western Canada, the wolverine has no protection under 
SARA; in the United States the wolverine currently has no status under 
the Act. This allows piecemeal management by States and Provinces with 
little regard for regional management directed at the continued 
existence of the species in the contiguous United States.
    Because British Columbia and Alberta are contiguous to a larger, 
and more robust, portion of the wolverine's range in northwestern 
Canada, documented declines in wolverine populations (likely due to 
harvest levels) in the southern portions of both Provinces have not 
raised the status of the species to a level of concern that would 
result in its consideration for status under SARA (Lofroth and Krebs 
2007, pp. 2164-2165; Lofroth and Ott 2007, p. 2193; Peterson 1997, pp. 
4-5).
Differences in Control of Exploitation
    Significant differences exist in control of exploitation between 
the United States and Canadian wolverine populations. U.S. populations 
are largely not harvested, with the exception of a carefully controlled 
and very limited harvest in Montana; while in Canada, harvest is 
widespread throughout the provinces within the current range. British 
Columbia has a 3- to 4-month trapping season with no provincial quota, 
while adjacent Washington considers the species State Endangered and 
allows no trapping. Alberta allows a 3-month trapping season with 
quotas in 6 of its 8 fur management zones for an annual average harvest 
of 37 (zones 7 and 8 in Alberta are closed to trapping but are outside 
the species' normal range and so the closure is of little conservation 
consequence (Province of Alberta 2007, entire)), while adjacent Montana 
allows up to a 2.5-month hunting and trapping season with a total quota 
of 5 wolverines (maximum of 3 females).
    Although we do not have comprehensive numbers of the annual 
wolverine harvest in Canada, we have estimated a total annual harvest 
of 719 animals (see Table 2) based upon the best information available 
to us. Based on available information, we presume this to be an 
underestimate, because it is based upon reported harvests, which, for 
Canadian territories, likely accounts for only one-fifth to one-third 
of the total harvest because of heavy unreported harvest and use by 
local communities (Melchoir et al. 1987 as cited in Banci 1994, p. 
101).

[[Page 78040]]



                              Table 2--Estimated Annual Wolverine Harvest in Canada
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Estimated annual
             Province or territory                   harvest                           Source
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
British Columbia..............................                175  Lofroth and Ott, 2007, pp. 2196-2197.
Alberta.......................................                 37  Province of Alberta 2006, p. 14.
Saskatchewan..................................                 10  COSEWIC 2007, Table 1
Manitoba......................................                 48  COSEWIC 2007, Table 1
Ontario.......................................                  8  COSEWIC 2007, Table 1
Yukon.........................................                150  COSEWIC 2007, Table 1
Northwest Territories.........................                209  COSEWIC 2007, Table 1 \*\
Nunavut.......................................                 82  COSEWIC 2007, Table 1 [caret]
                                               -------------------
    Total.....................................                719
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\*\ Corrected to adjust for majority being unreported in pelt production statistics.
[caret] Corrected using Dumond and Krizan 2002 as cited in COSEWIC 2007 p. 17.

    Based upon these numbers, we conservatively estimate that harvest 
in Canada is a minimum of 4.7 percent of the population annually. This 
estimate is nearly three times the amount of harvest in the United 
States, which is approximately 5 animals of 300, or 1.6 percent. We 
find that this nearly 300 percent difference is significant, because 
the wolverine is sensitive to even small increases in mortality rates 
(Squires et al. 2007, p. 2218). Human-caused mortality of wolverines is 
likely additive to natural mortality due to the low reproductive rate 
and relatively long life expectancy of wolverines (Krebs et al. 2004, 
p. 499; Lofroth and Ott 2007, pp. 2197-2198; Squires et al. 2007, pp. 
2218-2219).
    These differences may be significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) 
of the Act, because they show that regulatory mechanisms are necessary 
in the United States and Canada to ensure that the contiguous U.S. 
population continues to receive migrants from the genetically richer 
Canadian population. However, the differences in control of 
exploitation favor the U.S. population, which is the population that is 
potentially at risk. In Canada, no such mechanisms are currently needed 
to protect the species. About 15,000 to 19,000 wolverines occur in 
western Canada where suitable habitat is plentiful (COSEWIC 2003, pp. 
14-21). Because of this abundance of habitat, conservative management 
and careful geographic control of harvest are not necessary to conserve 
wolverines in western Canada. This situation contrasts with the 
situation in the United States, where habitat is fragmented and 
wolverine populations are limited to high elevations over portions of 
four States (Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming). Because 
differences in control of exploitation exist, but control favors the 
at-risk population, we do not rely on control of exploitation to 
establish discreteness.
Summary for Discreteness
    The international boundary between Canada and the United States 
currently leads to division of the control of exploitation and 
conservation status of the wolverine. This division is significant 
because it allows for potential extirpation of the species within the 
contiguous United States through loss of small populations and lack of 
demographic and genetic connectivity of the two populations. This 
difference in conservation status is likely to become more significant 
in light of threats discussed in the five factors analyzed below. 
Therefore, we find that the difference in the conservation statuses in 
Canada and the United States result in vulnerability to the significant 
threats (discussed below) in the U.S. wolverine population but not for 
the Canadian population. Existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate 
to ensure the continued existence of wolverines in the contiguous 
United States in the face of these threats. Therefore, it is our 
determination that the difference in conservation status between the 
two populations is significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the 
Act, because existing regulatory mechanisms appear sufficient to 
maintain the robust conservation status of the Canada-Alaska 
population, while existing regulatory mechanisms in the contiguous 
United States are insufficient to protect the wolverine from threats 
due to its depleted conservation status. As a result, the contiguous 
United States population of the wolverine meets the discreteness 
criterion in our DPS Policy (61 FR 4725). Consequently, we use the 
international border between the United States and Canada to define the 
northern boundary of the North American wolverine DPS.

Analysis for Significance

    If we determine a population segment is discrete, its biological 
and ecological significance will then be considered in light of 
Congressional guidance that the authority to list DPS's be used 
sparingly while encouraging the conservation of genetic diversity. In 
carrying out this examination, we consider available scientific 
evidence of the population's importance to the taxon to which it 
belongs (i.e., the North American wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus). Our DPS 
policy states that this consideration may include, but is not limited 
to: (1) Persistence of the discrete population segment in an ecological 
setting unusual or unique for the taxon; (2) evidence that loss of the 
discrete population segment would result in a significant gap in the 
range of the taxon; (3) evidence that the discrete population segment 
represents the only surviving natural occurrence of a taxon that may be 
more abundant elsewhere as an introduced population outside its 
historic range; or (4) evidence that the discrete population segment 
differs markedly from other populations of the species in its genetic 
characteristics. Below we address Factors 1, 2, and 4. Factor 3 does 
not apply to the continental U.S. wolverine population because North 
American wolverines are distributed widely across Alaska and Canada.
Significant Gap in the Range of the Taxon
    Loss of wolverines in the contiguous United States would represent 
a significant gap in the range of the taxon. Wolverines once lived 
throughout the North American Rocky Mountains from Alaska and Canada, 
south through Colorado and into New Mexico, and in the North Cascades 
of Washington and the Sierra Nevada Range of California--an extent 
covering approximately 38[deg] of latitude. Wolverines were extirpated

[[Page 78041]]

from most of the southern portions of their historic range, including 
all of the Sierra Nevada in California and all of Colorado, and 
possibly even the North Cascades and northern Rocky Mountains in the 
early 20th century (Aubry et al. 2007, Table 1), a loss of 
approximately 15[deg] of latitude. The wolverines that have moved to 
California and Colorado in the past 2 years (Moriarty et al. 2009, 
Figure 1; Inman et al 2009, pp. 22-25) may represent the initial 
attempts to recolonize the southernmost extent of the species' historic 
range and a continuation of a recolonization of the contiguous United 
States that began in the 1930s (Aubry et al. 2007, Table 1). Based on 
the current scientific information, we conclude that there is at least 
one wolverine each in the Sierra Nevada and southern Rocky Mountains. 
Both of these animals are males that dispersed from known populations 
rather than being from undiscovered remnant populations native to the 
regions in question, and there is no reason to believe that functional 
populations exist in these areas. Today, the contiguous United States 
represents the southernmost reach of the wolverine's range. The loss of 
this population would be significant because it would substantially 
curtail the range of the wolverine by moving the southern range 
terminus approximately 15[deg] of latitude to the north (or 
approximately 40 percent of the latitudinal extent of wolverine range) 
and eliminate wolverines from the fauna of the contiguous United 
States. Therefore, the loss of this population would result in a 
significant gap in the range of the taxon. The estimated area that 
would be lost from wolverine range in North America if the contiguous 
U.S. population was extirpated is 205,942 km\2\ (79,515 mi\2\) based on 
the habitat model developed by Copeland et al. (2010, entire; Copeland 
2010, pers. comm.).
    Given the wolverine's historic occupancy of the contiguous United 
States and the portion of the historic range they represent, 
maintenance and recovery of wolverines in their current range would 
provide some security for the rest of the taxon if conditions in Canada 
and Alaska deteriorated to the point that wolverines become endangered 
there. Populations on the periphery of species' ranges tend to be given 
lower conservation priority because they are thought to exist in low-
quality habitats, and are also thought to be the populations that are 
least likely to survive a reduction in range (Wolf et al. 1996, p. 
1147). However, this tendency presumes that the ultimate cause of the 
species' extinction will be one that operates by eroding away the 
species' range beginning at the periphery and progressing to the 
center. This presumption is based on biogeographical information that 
habitat and population densities of species are highest near the center 
of the species' range, and decline near the edge (Brown and Lomolino 
1998, Figure 4.16). Data from real range collapses of species from 
around the world illustrate that species' ranges tend to collapse to 
peripheral areas rather than to the center of their historic ranges 
(Lomolino and Channell 1995, p. 342; Channell and Lomomolino 2000, pp. 
84-86). Of 96 species whose last remnant populations were found either 
in the core or periphery of their historic range (rather than some in 
both core and periphery), 91 (95 percent) of the species were found to 
exist only in the periphery, and 5 (5 percent) existed solely in the 
center (Channell and Lomolino 2000, p. 85). Available scientific data 
support the importance of peripheral populations for conservation 
(Fraser 1999, entire; Lesica and Allendorf 1995, entire).
    Based upon the 15 degree latitude gap that would result in the 
range of the wolverine if the U.S. population was lost, we determine 
that the loss of the contiguous U.S. wolverine population would result 
in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. Thus, the DPS meets the 
definition of significant in our DPS policy.

Unusual or Unique Ecological Setting

    Wolverines in the contiguous United States exist in an ecosystem 
that requires extensive movements between habitats to maintain 
demographic viability and genetic diversity. Within the range of North 
American wolverines, the northern Rocky Mountains and North Cascades 
have the highest diversity of large predators and native ungulate prey 
species, which results in complex ecological interaction among ungulate 
prey, predators, scavenger groups, and vegetation (Smith et al. 2003, 
pp. 330-339). In the proposed DPS area, wolverines share habitats with 
gray wolves (Canis lupus), black bears (Ursus americanus), grizzly 
bears (Ursus arctos horribilis), puma (Felis concolor), lynx (Lynx 
canadensis), coyotes (Canis latrans), badgers (Taxidea taxus), bobcats 
(Felis rufus), fishers (Martes pennanti), and martens (Martes 
americana). The unique and diverse assemblage of native prey, and 
sources of carrion, for these carnivores include elk (Cervus elaphus), 
mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus 
virginianus), moose (Alces alces), woodland caribou (Rangifer caribou), 
bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus), 
pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), bison (Bison bison) (only in the 
Greater Yellowstone Area), and beaver (Castor canadensis).
    Despite the fragmented nature of the habitat and the high diversity 
of prey, wolverines in the contiguous United States appear to use 
habitat attributes that are similar to wolverine populations range-wide 
(Copeland et al. 2010, entire), and do not appear to exist in an 
unusual or unique ecological setting. Thus, we did not rely on this 
factor when determining that the wolverine in the United States is 
significant to the taxon as a whole.
Marked Genetic Differences
    Several genetics studies have confirmed genetic differentiation 
between wolverines in the contiguous United States and those in Canada 
and Alaska (Cegelski et al. 2006, pp. 203-205; Kyle and Strobeck 2002, 
p. 342; Schwartz et al. 2007, p. 2175). The U.S. Rocky Mountain 
populations group together in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analyses 
(Schwartz et al. 2007, p. 2176). The primary genetic difference is a 
reduction of diversity in the United States as compared with Canada so 
that the contiguous U.S. populations contain a subset of the genetics 
of the Canada-Alaska population (Cegelski et al. 2006, p. 200; Schwartz 
et al. 2007, p. 2172). The contiguous U.S. populations contain 3 mtDNA 
haplotypes and Canada-Alaska samples also contain those three 
haplotypes plus ten more. Idaho has substantially lower heterozygosity 
(a measure of the genetic variation in a population) (42 percent) than 
the nearest Canadian population (61 percent) sampled only 700 km (435 
mi) away (Kyle and Strobeck, 2001, p. 341, 345). Genetic structure in 
the contiguous United States indicates that population fragmentation 
caused by either natural or anthropogenic factors, has reduced gene 
flow between populations, and that genetic drift has occurred and may 
still be occurring (Kyle and Strobeck 2001, p. 343; Cegelski et al. 
2003, pp. 2914-2915; Cegelski et al. 2006, p. 208). This reduced 
genetic diversity and gene flow coincides with the international border 
and indicates that individuals are not passing freely between Canadian 
and U.S. populations (Schwartz et al. 2009, pp. 3229-3230). Four 
wolverine subpopulations have been identified within Montana based on 
genetic data (Cegelski et al. 2003, p. 2913; Guillot et al. 2005, p. 
1274). Subsequent work suggests that Montana may contain a

[[Page 78042]]

single population that is genetically structured by both distance and 
ecological factors meaning that wolverines across their range in 
Montana occasionally exchange individuals but do not freely interbreed 
because of the great distances and frequent unsuitable habitat that 
separates populations (Schwartz et al. 2009, p. 3227).
    The levels of gene flow in the contiguous United States are low 
compared to wolverines in Alaska and Northern Canada (Kyle and Strobeck 
2001; 2002, pp. 343-345), indicating that habitat in the contiguous 
United States is much more fragmented than habitats further north in 
Canada and Alaska (Schwartz et al. 2009, p. 3227). A distinct break was 
identified between the U.S. population and the Canadian populations 
(Cegelski et al. 2006, p. 203; Schwartz et al. 2009, pp. 3229-3230). 
Similarly, Schwartz et al. (2007, p. 2176) found that wolverines in 
Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming have few haplotypes (2 in the main Rocky 
Mountain group, plus 1 identified by Cegelski et al. 2006 in north-
central Montana) compared to 13 distinct haplotypes in Canada, despite 
greater numbers of samples collected in the contiguous United States. 
Of these two haplotypes found by Schwartz, one is predominant, with 71 
of 73 samples containing this haplotype (Schwartz et al. 2007, p. 
2176).
    The genetic differences between the U.S. and Canadian wolverine 
populations identified above are the result of loss of genetic 
diversity, either through genetic drift or founder effects. The 
differences consist of lower genetic diversity in the United States, a 
difference that is of conservation concern because it reflects loss of 
genetic diversity through inbreeding. This is not the kind of genetic 
difference that would lead us to conclude that a population is 
significant under our DPS policy. That policy is designed to ensure the 
protection of rare or unique biological diversity rather than mere 
differences in gene frequencies. Therefore, we do not rely on marked 
genetic differences in our determination of significance for this DPS.
Summary for Significance
    We conclude that the wolverine population in the contiguous United 
States is significant because its loss would result in a significant 
gap in the range of the taxon.

Summary of the Distinct Population Segment Analysis

    We conclude that the wolverine population in the contiguous United 
States is both discrete and significant under our DPS policy. 
Conservation status of wolverines in the contiguous United States is 
less secure than wolverines in adjacent Canada due to fragmented 
habitat, small population size, reduced genetic diversity, and their 
vulnerability to threats analyzed in this finding. Loss of the 
contiguous U.S. wolverines would result in a significant gap in the 
range of the taxon. Therefore, we determine that the wolverine in the 
48 States, as currently described, meets both the discreteness and 
significance criteria of our DPS policy, and is a listable entity under 
the Act. We now consider the conservation status of this DPS.

Summary of Information Pertaining to the Five Factors

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations 
(50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to the 
Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under 
section 4(a)(1) of the Act, a species may be determined to be 
endangered or threatened based on any of the following five factors: 
(A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment 
of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, 
recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or 
predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) 
other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. In 
making this finding, information pertaining to the U.S. DPS of the 
wolverine in relation to the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) 
of the Act is discussed below.
    We are required by the Act to assess threats information that may 
occur within the foreseeable future. We define foreseeable future as a 
timeframe in which impacts can be reasonably expected to occur. As 
discussed below, we have identified one primary threat to the wolverine 
DPS: climate change. Other threats are secondary and only rise to the 
level of threats to the DPS as they may work in concert with climate 
changes to affect the conservation status of the species. For this 
reason we use a foreseeable future identified for climate change (out 
to 2099) for all of the threat factors. For most threat factors, future 
projections are not available and it is assumed that current trends 
will continue unless information exists to the contrary.

Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range

    Under Factor A we will discuss a variety of impacts to wolverine 
habitat including: (1) Climate change, (2) human use and disturbance, 
(3) dispersed recreational activities, (4) infrastructure development, 
(5) transportation corridors, and (6) land management. Many of these 
impact categories overlap or act in concert with each other to affect 
wolverine habitat. Climate change is discussed under Factor A because 
although climate change may affect wolverines directly by creating 
physiological stress, the primary impact of climate change on 
wolverines is expected to be through changes to the availability and 
distribution of wolverine habitat.
    Two efforts to map wolverine habitat in the contiguous United 
States have been completed, although only one has been peer-reviewed 
(Brock et al. 2007, entire; Copeland et al. 2010, entire). As the 
single peer reviewed source, we rely on Copeland et al. (2010, entire) 
and supplemental information about that publication supplied in 
Copeland (pers. comm. 2010, p. 1) unless specified otherwise. We also 
report some statistics from the Brock et al. (2007) analysis because 
the authors report habitat broken down by land ownership whereas 
Copeland et al. (2010) do not. Both the Copeland et al. (2010) and 
Brock et al. (2007) analyses largely agree on the location of wolverine 
habitat within their geographic area of overlap; however, Brock et al. 
(2007) tends to be more inclusive and hence habitat area estimates for 
their model tend to be somewhat larger than for Copeland et al. (2010). 
Within the three States that currently harbor wolverines in the 
northern Rocky Mountains (Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming), an estimated 
104,363 km\2\ (40,295 mi\2\) of wolverine habitat exists (Copeland 
2010, pers. comm.). Based on the habitat model developed by Brock et 
al. (2007), 95 percent (120,000 km\2\; 46,332 mi\2\) is in Federal 
ownership with the largest portion of that (108,969 km\2\; 42,073 
mi\2\) managed by the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) (Inman 
2007b, pers. comm.).

Reduction in Habitat Due to Climate Change

    Department of the Interior Secretarial Order Number 3289, issued 
September 14, 2009 (Department of the Interior (DOI) 2009), provides 
guidance that DOI bureaus and offices shall ``* * * [c]onsider and 
analyze potential climate change impacts when undertaking long-

[[Page 78043]]

range planning exercises, setting priorities for scientific research 
and investigations, developing multi-year management plans, and making 
major decisions regarding potential use of resources under the 
Department's purview.''
    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was 
established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the 
United Nations Environment Program in response to growing concerns 
about climate change and, in particular, the effects of global warming. 
Although the extent of warming likely to occur is not known with 
certainty at this time, the IPCC has concluded that warming of the 
climate is unequivocal, and that continued greenhouse gas emissions at 
or above current rates will cause further warming (IPCC 2007, p. 30). 
Climate-change scenarios estimate that the mean air temperature could 
increase by more than 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 
2100 (IPCC 2007, p. 46). The IPCC also projects that there will very 
likely be regional increases in the frequency of hot extremes, heat 
waves, and heavy precipitation (IPCC 2007, p. 46), as well as increases 
in atmospheric carbon dioxide (IPCC 2007, p. 36).
    We recognize that there are scientific uncertainties on many 
aspects of climate change, including the role of natural variability in 
climate. In our analysis, we rely both on synthesis documents (e.g., 
IPCC 2007; Karl et al. 2009) that present the consensus view of a very 
large number of experts on climate change from around the world, and on 
three analyses that relate the effects of climate changes directly to 
wolverines (Gonzalez et al. 2008, entire; Brodie and Post 2009, entire; 
McKelvey et al. 2010b, entire). McKelvey et al. (2010b) is the most 
sophisticated analysis so far available of climate change effects to 
wolverines. This report is based on data from global climate models 
including both temperature and precipitation downscaled to reflect the 
regional climate patterns and topography found within the range of 
wolverines in the contiguous United States. For this reason we believe 
the McKelvey et al. (2010) report represents the best scientific 
information available regarding the impacts of climate change to 
wolverine habitat for this 12-month finding.
    Brodie and Post (2009) uses correlation to infer historical impacts 
of climate changes on Canadian wolverine populations based on harvest 
returns, but does not provide predictions of the future effects of 
climate changes on wolverines or wolverine habitat. Their report is 
suggestive of likely negative impacts to wolverine populations from 
continued warming; however, they do not provide estimates of the scale 
or spatial extent of future impacts. The Brodie and Post (2009) paper 
has also received several published criticisms of its methods (McKelvey 
et al. 2010a, entire; Devink et al. 2010, entire). The authors 
responded to these criticisms, although the controversy remains (Brodie 
and Post 2010b, entire). The report by Gonzalez et al. (2008) was the 
first available wolverine climate change analysis; however, the methods 
used in the report took into account only changes in temperature and 
not precipitation.
    Snowpack changes (and concomitant changes to wolverine habitat 
suitability) result from both changes in temperature (negative 
relationship) and changes in snowfall (positive relationship). Because 
many climate models predict higher precipitation levels associated with 
climate warming, the interaction between these two variables can be 
quite complex. Consequently, predictions about snow coverage that rely 
only on temperature projections are less reliable than those that rely 
on both temperature and precipitation. McKelvey et al. (2010b, entire) 
report projections for wolverine habitat and dispersal routes through 
the time interval from 2070 to 2099. Therefore, we use 2099 as the 
outer limit of the foreseeable future for climate change in this 
finding.
Climate Effects to Wolverines
    Across their worldwide distribution, wolverines are dependent on 
persistent spring snow cover for successful reproduction (Pulliainen 
1968, pp. 338-341; Myrberget 1968, p. 115; Copeland 1996, pp. 93-94; 
Magoun and Copeland 1998, pp. 1315-1319; Aubry et al. 2007, p. 2153; 
Inman et al. 2007c, pp. 71-72; Copeland et al. 2010, entire). No 
records exist of wolverines denning anywhere but in snow, despite the 
wide availability of snow-free denning opportunities within the 
species' geographic range. The snow tunnel and complex structure 
associated with dens is likely required to protect young from 
interspecific and intraspecific predation (Persson et al. 2003, pp. 25-
26; Magoun and Copeland 1998, p. 1318). A layer of deep snow may also 
add crucial insulation from cold temperatures and wind prevalent in 
denning habitat (Pulliainen 1968, p. 342; Bjarvall et al. 1978, p. 24-
25; Copeland 1996, p. 100; Magoun and Copeland 1998, p. 1318).
    Female wolverines have been observed to abandon reproductive dens 
when temperatures warm and snow conditions become wet (Magoun and 
Copeland 1998, p. 1316), indicating that the condition of the snow is 
also important to successful reproduction, and that the onset of spring 
snowmelt forces female wolverines to move kits into alternate denning 
sites with better snow conditions, if they are available. Female 
wolverines establish reproductive dens at elevations higher than those 
used by non-reproductive wolverines (Copeland 1996, p. 94; Magoun and 
Copeland 1998, pp. 1315-1316; Inman et al. 2007c, p. 71), suggesting 
that females find the conditions necessary for successful denning in 
the upper portion of their home range where snow is most persistent and 
occurs in the heaviest accumulations.
    In the contiguous United States, wolverine year-round habitat is 
found at high elevations in conifer forests near treeline and in rocky 
alpine habitats such as cirque basins and avalanche chutes that have 
food sources such as marmots, voles, and carrion (Hornocker and Hash 
1981, p. 1296; Copeland 1996, p. 124; Magoun and Copeland 1998, p. 
1318; Copeland et al. 2007, p. 2211; Inman et al. 2007a, p. 11). In 
fact, the areas defined by persistent spring snow cover that wolverines 
use for denning also correspond closely to wolverine habitat use in the 
nonreproductive season; essentially, wolverines use the coldest 
available landscapes within their geographic range in the contiguous 
United States (Copeland et al. 2010, Figure 6), likely due to a 
physiological need for cooler temperatures during the warm season.
    Mean seasonal elevations used by wolverines in the northern Rocky 
Mountains and North Cascades vary between 1,400 and 2,600 m (4,592 and 
8,528 ft) depending on location, but are always relatively high on 
mountain slopes (Hornocker and Hash 1981, p. 1291; Copeland et al. 
2007, p. 2207, Aubry et al. 2007, p. 2153). Elevation ranges used by 
historical wolverine populations in the Sierra Nevada and southern 
Rocky Mountains are unknown, but presumably wolverines used higher 
elevations, on average, than more northerly populations to compensate 
for the higher temperatures found at lower latitudes. In the contiguous 
United States, valley bottom habitat appears to be used only for 
dispersal movements and not for foraging or reproduction (Inman et al. 
2009, pp. 22-28). Wolverine reproductive dens have been located in 
alpine, subalpine, taiga, or tundra habitat (Myrberget 1968, p. 115; 
Pulliainen 1968, pp. 338-341; Bj[auml]rvall 1982, p. 318; Lee and 
Niptanatiak 1996, p. 349; Landa et al. 1998, pp. 451-452;

[[Page 78044]]

Magoun and Copeland 1998, pp. 1317-1318). Wolverines rarely, or never, 
den in lower elevation forested habitats, although they may occupy 
these habitats seasonally (Magoun and Copeland 1998, p. 1317).
    Due to dependence of wolverines on deep snow that persists into 
late spring both for successful reproduction and for year-round 
habitat, and their restricted distribution in areas that maintain 
significant snow late into the spring season, we conclude that deep 
snow maintained through the denning period is an essential feature of 
wolverine habitat. Reduction of this habitat feature would reduce 
wolverine habitat proportionally.
    Based on the information described above, we analyzed the effects 
of climate change on wolverines through three primary mechanisms: (1) 
Reduced snowpack and earlier spring runoff, which would reduce suitable 
habitat for wolverine denning; (2) increase in summer temperatures 
beyond the physiological tolerance of wolverines; and (3) ecosystem 
changes due to increased temperatures, which would move lower elevation 
ecosystems to higher elevations, eliminating high-elevation ecosystems 
on which wolverines depend and increasing competitive interactions with 
species that currently inhabit lower elevations. These mechanisms would 
tend to push the narrow elevational band that wolverines use up in 
elevation and, due to the conical structure of mountains, upward shifts 
would result in reduced overall suitable habitat for wolverines.
Reduced Snow Pack
    Warmer winter temperatures are reducing snow pack in western North 
American mountains through a higher proportion of precipitation falling 
as rain and higher rates of snowmelt during winter (Hamlet and 
Lettenmaier 1999, p. 1609; Brown 2000, p. 2347; Mote 2003, p. 3-1; 
Christensen et al. 2004, p. 347; Knowles et al. 2006, pp. 4548-4549). 
This trend is expected to continue with future warming (Hamlet and 
Lettenmaier 1999, p. 1611; Christensen et al. 2004, p. 347; Mote et al. 
2005, p. 48). Shifts in the initiation of spring runoff toward earlier 
dates are also well documented (Hamlet and Lettenmaier 1999, p. 1609; 
Brown 2000, p. 2347; Cayan et al. 2001, pp. 409-410; Christensen et al. 
2004, p. 347; Mote et al. 2005, p. 41; Knowles et al. 2006, p. 4554). 
Earlier spring runoff leads to lack of snow or degraded snow conditions 
during April and May, the critical time period for wolverine 
reproductive denning. In addition, a feedback effect hastens the loss 
of snow cover due to the reflective nature of snow and the relative 
heat-absorbing properties of non-snow-covered ground. This effect leads 
to the highest magnitude of warming occurring at the interface of snow-
covered and exposed areas, increasing the rate at which melting occurs 
in spring (Groisman et al. 1994a, pp. 1637-1648; Groisman et al. 1994b, 
pp. 198-200). Due to the importance of deep snow cover in spring for 
wolverine reproduction, currently suitable habitat that lost this 
feature would be rendered unsuitable for wolverines.
Ecosystem Changes Associated With Climate Change
    Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns are expected to shift 
the distribution of ecosystems northward (IPCC 2007c, p. 230) and up 
mountain slopes (McDonald and Brown 1992, pp. 411-412; Danby and Hik 
2007, pp. 358-359, IPCC 2007c, p. 232). As climate changes over a 
landscape, the ecosystems that support wolverines are likely to move, 
tracking the change of temperature, but with a time lag depending on 
the ability of individual plant species to migrate (McDonald and Brown 
1992, pp. 413-414; Hall and Fagre 2003, p. 138; Peterson 2003, p. 652). 
Wolverines in the contiguous United States, due to their reliance on 
mountainous habitat, will most likely adjust to climate changes by 
using higher elevations on mountain slopes, not by shifting their 
latitudinal distribution. Along a latitudinal gradient through the 
historic distribution of wolverines, records tended to be found at 
higher elevations in southern latitudes (Aubry et al. 2007, p. 2153), 
which suggests that wolverines were compensating for increased 
temperature at low latitudes by selecting higher elevations. Therefore, 
the regional availability of suitable habitat is not likely to change 
significantly (i.e., at least some wolverine habitat will continue to 
be available in all regions where wolverines currently occur), but 
within regional landscapes, smaller areas will be suitable for 
wolverines. Mountain ranges with maximum elevations within the 
elevation band that wolverines currently use, such as much of the 
wolverine habitat in central Idaho, may become entirely unsuitable for 
wolverines with the projected level of warming reported in McKelvey et 
al. (2010b, Figure 3).
Timing of Climate Effects
    Unlike snow conditions, which respond directly to temperature 
change without a time lag, ecosystem responses to temperature change 
lag depending on constituent species' individual migratory abilities. 
Wolverines are described as a ``treeline'' species because they are 
most often found in an elevation band that is approximately centered on 
the alpine treeline at any given locality within their range. Alpine 
treelines are maintained by a complex set of climactic and biotic 
factors, of which temperature is significantly important (Cogbill and 
White 1991, p. 169; H[auml]ttenschwiler and K[ouml]rner 1995, p. 367; 
Jobb[aacute]gy and Jackson 2000, p. 259; Pellat et al. 2000, pp. 80-
81). However, the conditions that favor tree establishment and lead to 
elevational advance in the treeline may exist only sporadically, 
increasing time lags associated with treeline response to warming 
(Hessl and Baker 1997, p. 181; Klasner and Fagre 2002, p. 54). Within 
wolverine habitats, treelines have advanced up mountain slopes since 
1850, due to climate warming, and this trend is expected to continue 
into the future (Hessl and Baker 1997, p. 176; Hall and Fagre 2003, p. 
138). We expect that species reliant on resources associated with this 
biome will need to shift accordingly. Given the irregular nature of 
treeline response to warming, treeline migration is likely to lag 
significantly behind the climate warming that causes it.
Magnitude of Climate Effects on Wolverine
    Several studies relating the effects of climate changes on 
wolverines in the past, present, and future are now available (Brock 
and Inman 2007, entire; Gonzales et al. 2008, pp. 1-5; Brodie and Post 
2010, entire; McKelvey et al. 2010b, entire). The Gonzalez et al. 
report and the report by Brock and Inman (2007) were both preliminary 
attempts to analyze climate change impacts to wolverines, but are not 
currently considered the best available science because they did not 
consider the effects of both changes in temperature and precipitation 
that may affect the distribution of persistent spring snow cover 
(McKelvey 2010, entire). Both Brock and Inman (2007) and Gonzalez et 
al. (2008) have been superseded by a more sophisticated analysis 
provided by McKelvey et al. (2010b). This analysis includes climate 
projections at a local scale for wolverine habitats and analyzes the 
effects of both temperature changes and changes to precipitation 
patterns. Lack of accounting for changes in precipitation was a 
weakness cited by the authors of both Brock and Inman (2007) and 
Gonzalez et al. (2008).
    Brodie and Post (2010, entire) correlate the decline in wolverine 
populations in Canada over the past

[[Page 78045]]

century with declining snowpack due to climate change over the same 
period. However, correlation does not infer causation; other factors 
could have caused the decline. The analysis used harvest data to infer 
population trends as well as its reliance on correlation to infer 
causation (McKelvey et al. 2010a, entire); in this case, historic 
climate changes are inferred to have caused the declines in harvest 
returns, which are thought by the authors to reflect actual population 
declines. Due to the above-stated concerns, we view the analysis of 
Brodie and Post (2010, entire) with caution, although we do agree that 
the posited mechanism, of loss of snowpack affecting wolverine 
populations and distribution, likely has merit.
    McKelvey et al. (2010, entire) used downscaled global climate 
models to project the impacts of changes in temperature and 
precipitation to wolverine habitat as modeled by Copeland et al. (2010, 
entire). The authors also present an alternative method for evaluating 
climate impacts on wolverine habitat, by merely projecting onset of 
spring snowmelt to occur 2 weeks earlier than it currently does, 
essentially asking the question: What would happen if spring snowmelt 
occurred 2 weeks earlier than it occurs now? Based on this information, 
wolverine habitat in the contiguous United States, which supports 
approximately 250 to 300 wolverines, is shrinking and is likely to 
continue to shrink with increased climate warming (McKelvey et al. 
2010b, Figures 1, 3). Habitat losses are likely to occur throughout the 
range of the DPS and are projected to be most severe in central Idaho 
(McKelvey et al. 2010b, Figures 1, 3). However, large areas of snow 
cover are likely to remain in British Columbia, North Cascades, Greater 
Yellowstone Area (GYA), and the Glacier Park-Bob Marshall Wilderness of 
Montana (McKelvey et al. 2010b, p. 14, Figure 2). The southern Rocky 
Mountains of Colorado retained significant high-elevation snow in some 
models but not others, and so may be another area that could support 
wolverine populations in the face of climate changes (McKelvey et al. 
2010b, p. 19). The mountainous areas of Idaho that currently support 
wolverines are likely to lose proportionally more snow-covered area 
than other areas within the contiguous United States, making this area 
of wolverine habitat relatively more sensitive to climate warming 
(McKelvey et al. 2010b, p. 14).
    Overall, wolverine habitat in the contiguous United States is 
expected to get smaller and more highly fragmented as individual 
habitat islands become smaller and the intervening areas between 
wolverine habitat become larger (McKelvey et al. 2010b, Figures 1, 3). 
Composite projections for the time interval centered on 2045 predict 
that 23 percent of current wolverine habitat in the contiguous United 
States will be lost due to climate warming (McKelvey et al. 2010b, p. 
14). That loss expands to 63 percent of wolverine habitat by the time 
interval between 2070 and 2099. Given the spatial needs of animals with 
the home range size of wolverines and the limited availability of 
suitable wolverine habitat in the contiguous United States, this 
projected gross loss of habitat area should result in a loss of 
wolverine numbers that is greater than the overall loss of habitat 
area. As habitat patches become smaller and more isolated, they are 
likely to lose the ability to support wolverines as some home ranges 
become so reduced that they cannot support individual animals, and 
others become so fragmented or isolated that they no longer continue to 
function.
    In addition to the effects of gross habitat loss, we expect 
wolverine populations to be negatively affected by changes in the 
spatial distribution of habitat patches as remaining habitat islands 
become progressively more isolated from each other as a result of 
climate changes (McKelvey et al. 2010b, Figure 8). Currently, wolverine 
habitat in the contiguous United States can be described as a series of 
habitat islands. Some of these islands are large and clumped closely 
together, such as in the North Cascades, Glacier Park-Bob Marshall 
Wilderness complex in Montana, and the GYA. Other islands are smaller 
and more isolated such as the island mountain ranges of central and 
southwestern Montana. Inbreeding and consequent loss of genetic 
diversity has occurred in the past within these smaller islands of 
habitat (Cegelski et al. 2006, p. 208), and genetic exchange between 
subpopulations is most difficult to achieve (Schwartz et al. 2009, 
Figure 4). Climate change projections indicate that, as warming 
continues, large contiguous blocks will become reduced in size and 
isolated to the extent that their ability to support robust populations 
is reduced and their connectivity to other source populations resembles 
the current situation for our most isolated wolverine populations 
(McKelvey et al. 2010b, Figure 8). This habitat alteration would result 
in a high likelihood of loss of genetic diversity due to inbreeding 
within a few generations (Cegelski et al. 2006, p. 209). Further 
isolation of wolverines on small habitat islands with reduced 
connectivity to other populations would also increase the likelihood of 
subpopulations loss due to demographic stochasticity, impairing the 
functionality of the wolverine metapopulation in the contiguous United 
States.
    We believe that McKelvey et al. (2010b, entire) represents the best 
available science for predicting the future impacts of climate change 
on wolverine habitat for four primary reasons. First, their habitat 
projections are based on Global Climate Models which are thought to be 
the most reliable predictors of future climate available (IPCC 2007a, 
p. 12). Second, they conducted downscaling analyses to infer geographic 
climate variation at a scale relevant to wolverine habitat. Third, they 
used a hydrologic model to predict snow coverage during the spring 
denning period (the strongest correlate with wolverine reproductive 
success). Fourth, they used the habitat model developed by Copeland et 
al. (2010, entire), to relate projected climate changes to wolverine 
habitat. This report has not been peer-reviewed or published at the 
time of this finding; however, based on our analysis of the methods and 
analysis used by the authors, we conclude it constitutes the best 
available information on the likely impact of climate change on 
wolverine distribution in the contiguous United States. Based on the 
analysis presented, we conclude that climate changes are likely to 
result in permanent loss of a significant portion of essential 
wolverine habitat within the foreseeable future. Additional impacts of 
climate change will be increased habitat fragmentation as habitat 
islands become smaller and intervening habitat disappears. Eventually, 
these processes are likely to lead to a breakdown of metapopulation 
dynamics as subpopulations are no longer able to rescue each other 
after local extinctions due to a lack of connectivity. It is also 
likely that loss of genetic diversity leading to lower fitness will 
occur as population isolation increases.

Summary of Impacts of Climate Changes

    Wolverine habitat is projected to decrease in area and become more 
fragmented within the foreseeable future as a result of climate 
changes. These impacts are expected to have direct and indirect effects 
to wolverine populations in the contiguous United States including 
reducing the number of wolverines that can be supported by available 
habitat and reducing the ability of wolverines to travel between 
patches of suitable habitat. This

[[Page 78046]]

reduction in connectivity is likely to affect metapopulation dynamics 
making it more difficult for subpopulations to recolonize areas where 
wolverines have been extirpated and to bolster the genetics or 
demographics of adjacent subpopulations. Due to the extent and 
magnitude of climate change impacts to wolverines and their habitat, we 
conclude that climate change constitutes a threat to the contiguous 
U.S. DPS of wolverines in the foreseeable future.

Habitat Impacts Due to Human Use and Disturbance

    Because wolverine habitat is generally inhospitable to human use 
and occupation and most of it is also Federally managed, wolverines are 
somewhat insulated from impacts of human disturbances from industry, 
agriculture, infrastructure development, or recreation. Human 
disturbance in the contiguous United States has likely resulted in the 
loss of some wolverine habitat, although this loss has not yet been 
quantified. Sources of human disturbance to wolverines include winter 
and summer recreation, housing and industrial development, road 
corridors, and extractive industry such as logging or mining. In the 
contiguous United States, these human activities and developments often 
occur within or immediately adjacent to wolverine home ranges, such as 
in alpine or boreal forest environments at high elevations on mountain 
slopes. They can also occur in a broader range of habitats that are 
occasionally used by wolverines during dispersal or exploratory 
movements--habitats that are not suitable for the establishment of home 
ranges and reproduction.
    Little is known about the behavioral responses of individual 
wolverines to human presence, or about the species' ability to tolerate 
and adapt to repeated disturbance. Some postulate that disturbance may 
reduce the wolverine's ability to complete essential life-history 
activities, such as foraging, breeding, maternal care, routine travel, 
and dispersal. It may decrease habitat value, cause animals to avoid 
disturbed areas, or act as a barrier to movement (Packila et al. 2007, 
pp. 105-110). How effects of disturbance extend from individuals to 
characteristics of populations, such as vital rates (e.g., 
reproduction, survival, emigration, and immigration) and gene flow, and 
ultimately to wolverine population or meta-population persistence, is 
unknown.
    Wolverine habitat is generally characterized by the absence of 
human presence and development (Hornocker and Hash 1981, p. 1299; Banci 
1994, p. 114; Landa et al. 1998, p. 448; Rowland et al. 2003, p. 101; 
Copeland 1996, pp. 124-127; Krebs et al. 2007, pp. 2187-2190). This 
negative association is sometimes interpreted as active avoidance of 
human activity, but it may simply reflect the wolverine's preference 
for cold, snowy, and high-elevation habitat. In the contiguous United 
States, wolverine habitat is typically associated with high-elevation 
(e.g., 2,100 m to 2,600 m (6,888 ft to 8,528 ft)) subalpine forests 
that comprise the Hudsonian Life Zone (weather similar to that found in 
northern Canada), environments not typically used by people for 
housing, industry, agriculture, or transportation. However, occupied 
wolverine habitat supports a variety of activities associated with 
extractive industry, such as logging and mining, as well as 
recreational activities in both summer and winter.
    At broad spatial scales, it is difficult to separate human 
disturbance from negative, although interdependent, effects of habitat 
loss and fragmentation, and historic overexploitation; factors that 
could contribute to current differences in distributions of wolverines 
and humans.
    Maternal females and their young often vacate dens if they feel 
threatened (Myrberget 1968, p. 115), which is a common predator 
avoidance strategy among carnivores. The security of the den and the 
surrounding foraging areas (i.e., protection from disturbance by humans 
and predation by other carnivores) is an important aspect of den site 
selection. Abandonment of natal and maternal dens may also be a 
preemptive strategy that females use in the absence of disturbance by 
humans or predators. Preemptive den abandonment might confer an 
advantage to females if prolonged use of the same den makes that den 
more evident to predators.
    The reasons for den abandonment are uncertain. Managing human 
activity in wolverine habitat to limit premature den abandonment and 
associated stress and energy expenditure of maternal females may be 
important for successful reproduction. Premature den abandonment may 
also increase incidental mortality of offspring. Ultimately, low 
reproductive success and high mortality may reduce population viability 
in areas with high incidence of disturbance (Banci 1994, pp. 110-111). 
The potentially negative effects of disturbance may be more important 
at the southern margin of the species' North American range where 
wolverine productivity is particularly low (Inman et al. 2007c, p. 70). 
Wolverines typically occupy severe, unproductive environments that 
support low numbers of adult females with characteristically low birth 
rates (Persson et al. 2006, p. 77; Inman et al. 2007a, p. 68). The 
life-history strategy of wolverines makes it unlikely that they could 
compensate for increased mortality due to disturbance (Krebs et al. 
2007, p. 2190; Persson et al. 2006, pp. 77-78), and they may be more 
vulnerable to extirpation than species with high reproductive rates 
(Ruggiero et al. 2007, p. 2146).
    For the purposes of this finding, we divide human disturbance into 
four categories: (1) Dispersed recreational activities with primary 
impacts to wolverines through direct disturbance (e.g., snowmobiling 
and heli-skiing); (2) disturbance associated with permanent 
infrastructure such as residential and commercial developments, mines, 
and campgrounds; (3) disturbance and mortality associated with 
transportation corridors; and (4) disturbance associated with land 
management activities such as forestry, or fire/fuels reduction 
activities. Overlap between these categories is extensive, and it is 
often difficult to distinguish effects of infrastructure from the 
dispersed activities associated with that infrastructure. However, we 
believe that these categories account for most of the potential effects 
related to disturbance of wolverines.
Dispersed Recreational Activities
    Dispersed recreational activities occurring in wolverine habitat 
include snowmobiling, heli-skiing, hiking, biking, off- and on-road 
motorized use, hunting, fishing, and other uses. Among the most often 
cited as potential threats to wolverines are snowmobiling and heli-
skiing; however, other dispersed recreation activities may have similar 
effects.
    One study documented (in two reports) the extent that winter 
recreational activity spatially and temporally overlapped wolverine 
denning habitat in the contiguous United States (Heinemeyer and 
Copeland 1999, pp. 1-17; Heinemeyer et al. 2001, pp. 1-35). This study 
took place in the GYA in an area of high dispersed recreational use. 
The overlap of modeled wolverine denning habitat and dispersed 
recreational activities was extensive. Strong temporal overlap existed 
between snowmobile activity (February-April) and the wolverine denning 
period (February-May). During 2000, six of nine survey units, ranging 
from 3,500 to 13,600 hectares (ha) (8,645 to 33,592 acres (ac)) in 
size, showed evidence of recent snowmobile use.

[[Page 78047]]

Among the six survey units with activity, the highest use covered 20 
percent of the predicted denning habitat, and use ranged from 3 to 7 
percent over the other survey units. Snowmobile activity was typically 
intensive where detected.
    Three of nine survey units in this study showed evidence of skier 
activity (Heinemeyer and Copeland 1999, p. 10; Heinemeyer et al. 2001, 
p. 16). Among the three units with activity, skier use covered 3 to 19 
percent of the survey unit. Skiers also intensively used the sites they 
visited. Combined skier and snowmobile use covered as much as 27 
percent of potential denning habitat in one unit, where no evidence of 
wolverine presence was detected. Although we do not have any 
information on the overlap of wolverine and winter recreation in the 
remaining part of the U.S. range, these areas likely do not get the 
high levels of recreational use seen in the portion of the GYA examined 
in this study.
    Although we can demonstrate that recreational use of wolverine 
habitat is heavy in some areas, we do not have any information on the 
effects of these activities on the species. No rigorous assessments of 
anthropogenic disturbance on wolverine den fidelity, food provisioning, 
or offspring survival have been conducted. Disturbance from foot and 
snowmobile traffic associated with historic wolverine control 
activities (Pulliainen 1968, p. 343), and field research activities, 
may cause maternal females to abandon natal dens and relocate kits to 
maternal dens (Myrberget 1968, p. 115; Magoun and Copeland 1998, p. 
1316; Inman et al. 2007c, p. 71).
    At both a site-specific and landscape scale, wolverine natal dens 
were located particularly distant from public (greater than 7.5 km (4.6 
mi)) and private (greater than 3 km (1.9 mi)) roads (May 2007, p. 14-
31). Placement of dens away from public roads (and away from associated 
human-caused mortality) was also a positive influence on successful 
reproduction. It is not known if the detected effect is due to the 
influence of the roads themselves or if there are other habitat 
variables that cause the effect that are also correlated with a lack of 
roads.
    Disturbance at maternal dens may be more likely to cause 
displacement than disturbance at natal dens (Magoun and Copeland 1998, 
p. 1316), and maternal dens may be less secure from predators than 
natal dens (Myrberget 1968, p. 115), presumably because maternal dens 
are shallower and smaller. After pursuit by Scandinavian hunters, 
females near parturition used birthing sites that were less secure than 
natal dens (Pulliainen 1968, p. 343). Maternal females apparently carry 
or pull their offspring to new den sites, and may be constrained by the 
distance and difficulty of simultaneously moving several reluctant 
offspring (Myrberget 1968, p. 115).
    Stress from human activities has not been shown to affect 
reproductive rates, or to render home range or larger areas of habitat 
unsuitable. However, the absence of human disturbance that is afforded 
by refugia may be important for wolverine reproduction (Banci 1994, p. 
122; Copeland 1996, p. 126). The extent that dispersed winter 
recreational activities affect selection of natal den sites by female 
wolverines is little studied. Rugged terrain and dense forests may 
naturally separate natal dens and wolverine foraging areas from centers 
of snowmobile or backcounty skier activity. Maternal females may 
specifically choose to locate dens far from winter recreation (Inman et 
al. 2007c, p. 72; Heinemeyer and Copeland 1999, p. 2-9). Six of seven 
natal dens documented in the Yellowstone Ecosystem occurred where 
snowmobiles were not permitted, such as in designated wilderness or 
national parks (Inman et al. 2007c); recreational snowmobile use 
outside of these areas was common. Wolverine den, foraging, and 
traveling areas have anecdotally been found to be spatially separated 
from snowmobile activity (Heinemeyer et al. 2001, p. 17).
    Dispersed recreation is likely to affect wolverines, at least in 
local areas where this activity occurs at high intensity in wolverine 
habitat. The magnitude of this effect in relation to the wolverine DPS 
is difficult to determine due to a lack of information on the effects 
of disturbance on wolverine vital rates, behavior, and habitat use, as 
well as a general lack of reliable information about the geographic 
distribution and intensity of dispersed recreational use of wolverine 
habitats. For these reasons, we conclude that dispersed recreation, by 
itself, is not a threat to wolverines in the contiguous United States, 
but that this potential threat may act in concert with other threats to 
contribute to wolverine declines. As climate changes continue to reduce 
wolverine habitats, dispersed recreational uses such as snowmobiling 
and skiing are likely to become more concentrated in any remaining 
snow-covered areas. This is an area of concern that deserves more 
scientific investigation as wolverine conservation efforts proceed into 
the future.
Infrastructure
    Infrastructure includes all residential, industrial, and 
governmental developments such as buildings, houses, oil and gas wells, 
and ski areas. Infrastructure development on private lands in the Rocky 
Mountain West has been rapidly increasing in recent years and is 
expected to continue as people move to this area for its natural 
amenities (Hansen et al. 2002, p. 151). Infrastructure development may 
affect wolverines directly by eliminating habitats, or indirectly, by 
displacing wolverines from suitable habitats near developments. The 
latter effect tends to be most detrimental to sensitive wildlife, 
because the area of displacement may be much larger than the area of 
direct habitat loss.
    Wolverine home ranges generally do not occur near human 
settlements, and this separation is likely due both to differential 
habitat selection by wolverines and humans and to some extent, 
disturbance-related effects (May et al. 2006, pp. 289-292; Copeland et 
al. 2007, p. 2211). In one study, wolverines did not strongly avoid 
developed habitat within their home ranges (May et al 2006, p. 289). 
Wolverines may respond positively to human activity and developments 
that are a source of food. They scavenge food at dumps in and adjacent 
to urban areas, at trapper cabins, and at mines (LeResche and Hinman 
1973 as cited in Banci 1994, p. 115; Banci 1994, p. 99).
    Wolverine dispersal may also be affected by development. Linkage 
zones are places where animals can find food, shelter, and security 
while moving across the landscape between suitable habitats. Wolverines 
prefer to travel in habitat that is most similar to habitat they use 
for home-range establishment, i.e., alpine habitats that maintain snow 
cover well into the spring (Schwartz et al. 2009, p. 3227). Wolverines 
may move large distances in an attempt to establish new home ranges, 
but the probability of making such movements decreases with increased 
distance between suitable habitat patches, and the degree to which the 
characteristics of the habitat to be traversed diverge from preferred 
habitat (Copeland et al. 2010, entire; Schwartz et al. 2009, p. 3230). 
Wolverine populations in the northern Rocky Mountains appear to be 
connected to each other at the present time through dispersal routes 
that correspond to habitat suitability (Schwartz et al. 2009, Figures 
4, 5).
    The level of development in these linkage areas that wolverines can 
tolerate is unknown, but it appears that the current landscape does 
allow some

[[Page 78048]]

wolverine dispersal (Schwartz et al. 2009, Figures 4, 5; Moriarty et 
al. 2009, entire; Inman et al. 2009, pp. 22-28). However, contiguous 
U.S. gene flow between populations may not be high enough to prevent 
genetic drift (Cegelski et al. 2006, p. 208). Each subpopulation within 
the contiguous United States would need an estimated 400 breeding 
pairs, or 1 to 2 effective migrants per generation, to ensure long-term 
genetic viability (Cegelski et al. 2006, p. 209). Our current 
understanding of wolverine ecology suggests that no subpopulation 
historically or presently at carrying capacity would approach 400 
breeding pairs within the contiguous United States (Brock et al. 2007, 
p. 26); nor is the habitat capable of supporting anywhere near this 
number. It is highly unlikely that 400 breeding pairs exist in the 
entire contiguous United States. For this reason, long-term viability 
of wolverines in the contiguous United States requires exchange of 
individuals between blocks of habitat.
    Wolverines are capable of long-distance movements through variable 
and anthropogenically altered terrain, crossing numerous transportation 
corridors (Moriarty et al. 2009, entire; Inman et al. 2009, pp. 22-28). 
Wolverines are able to successfully disperse between habitats, despite 
the level of development that is currently taking place in the northern 
Rocky Mountains (Copeland 1996, p. 80; Copeland and Yates 2006, pp. 17-
36; Inman et al. 2007a, pp. 9-10; Pakila et al. 2007, pp. 105-109; 
Schwartz et al. 2009, Figures 4, 5). Dispersal between populations is 
needed to avoid further reduction in genetic diversity; however, it is 
not clear that development or human activities are preventing wolverine 
movements between suitable habitat patches rather than simply small 
population sizes making movements infrequent. Future human developments 
may increase landscape resistance to wolverine dispersal; however, we 
have no information to suggest that this situation is likely to reach a 
level of impeding wolverine movements within the foreseeable future. 
Infrastructure developments that occur within wolverine habitat will 
affect wolverines in local areas and those impacts should be accounted 
for during planning activities. Infrastructure development, by itself, 
does not threaten the wolverine DPS; however, it may act in concert 
with the primary threat of climate change to further depress wolverine 
populations as habitats become more restricted.
Transportation Corridors
    Transportation corridors may affect wolverines if located in 
wolverine habitat or between habitat patches. If located in wolverine 
habitat, transportation corridors result in direct loss of habitat and 
possibly displacement of wolverines for some distance. Direct mortality 
due to collisions with vehicles is also possible. Transportation 
corridors provide access to areas otherwise not affected by humans, 
which exacerbates the effects of human disturbance from a variety of 
activities. Outside of wolverine habitat, transportation corridors may 
affect wolverines if they present barriers to movement between habitat 
patches or result in direct mortality to dispersing wolverines. Because 
wolverines are capable of making long-distance movements between 
patches of suitable habitat, transportation corridors located many 
miles away from wolverine home ranges may affect their ability to 
disperse or recolonize vacant habitats after local extirpation events.
    The Trans Canada Highway at Kicking Horse Pass in southern British 
Columbia, an important travel corridor over the Continental Divide, has 
a negative effect on wolverine movement (Austin 1998, p. 30). 
Wolverines partially avoided areas within 100 m (328 ft) of the 
highway, and preferred distant sites (greater than 1,100 m (3,608 ft)). 
Wolverines that approached the highway to cross repeatedly retreated 
and successful crossing occurred in only half of the attempts. Where 
wolverines did successfully cross, they used the narrowest portions of 
the highway right-of-way. Although not assessed, disturbance-related 
effects of the highway may have been greater in summer when traffic 
volumes were higher. A railway with minimal human activity, adjacent to 
the highway, had little effect on wolverine movements. Wolverines did 
not avoid, and even preferred, compacted, lightly-used ski trails in 
the area.
    In the tri-State area of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, most 
crossings of Federal or State highways are done by subadult wolverines 
making exploratory or dispersal movements (ranges of resident adults 
typically did not contain major roads) (Packila et al. 2007, p. 105). 
Roads in the study area, typically 2-lane highways or roads with less 
improvement, were not absolute barriers to wolverine movement. The 
wolverine that moved to Colorado from Wyoming in 2008 successfully 
crossed Interstate 80 in southern Wyoming (Inman et al. 2008, Figure 
6). Wolverines in Norway successfully cross deep valleys that contain 
light human developments such as railway lines, settlements, and roads 
(Landa et al. 1998, p. 454). Wolverines in central Idaho avoided 
portions of a study area that contained roads, although this was 
possibly an artifact of unequal distribution of roads that occurred at 
low elevations and peripheral to the study site (Copeland et al. 2007, 
p. 2211). Wolverines frequently used un-maintained roads for traveling 
during the winter, and did not avoid trails used infrequently by people 
or active campgrounds during the summer.
    At both a site-specific and landscape scale, wolverine natal dens 
were located particularly distant from public (greater than 7.5 km (4.6 
mi)) and private (greater than 3 km (1.9 mi)) roads (May 2007, p. 14-
31). Placement of dens away from public roads (and away from associated 
human-caused mortality) was a positive influence on successful 
reproduction (May 2007, p. 14-31). Predictive, broad-scale habitat 
models, developed using historic records of wolverine occurrence, 
indicated that roads were negatively associated with wolverine 
occurrence (Rowland et al. 2003, p. 101). Although wolverines appear to 
avoid transportation corridors in their daily movements, the low 
density of these types of structures in wolverine habitat leads us to 
conclude that the effects are most likely local in scale. Development 
of transportation corridors in linkage areas may inhibit wolverine 
movements between habitat patches, potentially reducing connectivity 
among habitat islands. This isolating effect has not been measured for 
wolverines and remains theoretical at this point in time. 
Transportation corridors, by themselves, do not threaten the wolverine 
DPS, however, these corridors may work in concert with the primary 
threat of climate change to further depress populations or reduce 
habitat connectivity as habitat becomes more restricted. Therefore, we 
consider transportation corridors to be a potential threat to the 
wolverine DPS, in concert with the primary threat of climate change.
Land Management
    Effects to wolverines from land management actions such as grazing, 
timber harvest, and prescribed fire are largely unknown. Wolverines in 
British Columbia used recently logged areas in the summer and moose 
winter ranges for foraging (Krebs et al. 2007, pp. 2189-2190). Although 
males did not appear to be influenced strongly by the presence of 
roadless areas, the researchers did not measure traffic volume, so may 
have been unable to detect responses of males

[[Page 78049]]

to heavily used roads. In Idaho, wolverines used recently burned areas 
despite the loss of canopy cover (Copeland 1996, p. 124).
    Intensive management activities such as timber harvest and 
prescribed fire do occur in wolverine habitat; however, for the most 
part, wolverine habitat tends to be located at high elevations and in 
rugged topography that is unsuitable for intensive timber management. 
Much of wolverine habitat is managed by the U.S. Forest Service or 
other Federal agencies and is protected from some practices or 
activities such as residential development. In addition, much of 
wolverine habitat within the contiguous United States is already in a 
management status such as wilderness or national park (see Factor D for 
more discussion) that provides some protection from management, 
industrial, and recreational activities. Wolverines are not thought to 
be dependent on specific vegetation or habitat features that might be 
manipulated by land management activities. We conclude that land 
management activities as discussed above do not constitute a threat to 
the wolverine DPS.

Summary of Factor A

    The threat of past, current, and future climate change occurs over 
the entire range of the contiguous U.S. population of the wolverine. 
This threat is likely to have already reduced the overall areal extent 
and distribution of wolverine suitable habitat. Determining whether or 
not wolverine populations have been impacted by this threat is 
complicated by the historical extirpation of wolverines in the early 
20th Century followed by recolonization and expansion. It is possible 
that expansion of wolverine populations through the second half of the 
20th Century has masked climate change effects that would have 
otherwise reduced populations had they existed at presettlement levels. 
So despite the lack of detectable population-level impacts, it is still 
likely that habitat is already reduced from historic levels due to this 
threat.
    Future climate changes are projected to reduce suitable wolverine 
habitat by 23 percent by 2045 and 63 percent by the time interval 
between 2070 and 2099 due to climate warming. This reduction will 
likely result in suitable wolverine habitat shifting up mountain 
slopes, and, due to the conical structure of mountains, will result in 
smaller, more isolated remaining habitat patches. Due to the large size 
of wolverine home ranges, many small mountain ranges are likely to lose 
the ability to support wolverine populations. We expect that, due to 
secondary effects of this habitat loss such as increased habitat 
fragmentation and isolation, the impacts of habitat loss on wolverines 
will be greater than the areal extent of habitat loss.
    Deep snow that persists into the month of May is essential for 
wolverine reproduction. This life-history need is likely to be most 
sensitive to climate changes. Wolverine are vulnerable to habitat 
modification (specifically, reduction in persistent spring snow cover) 
due to climate warming in the contiguous United States. Further, it is 
likely that year-round wolverine habitat, not just denning habitat, 
will also be significantly reduced due to the effects of climate 
warming. Reductions in habitat would result in greater habitat 
isolation, reducing the frequency of dispersal between habitat patches 
and the likelihood of recolonization after local extinction events. 
This reduced dispersal ability is likely to result in loss of genetic 
diversity within remaining habitat patches and population loss due to 
demographic stochasticity. The contiguous U.S. population of wolverines 
is already very small and fragmented and is, therefore, particularly 
vulnerable to these impacts, to the extent that the degree of these 
impacts could lead to endangerment of the DPS within the foreseeable 
future.
    The best available scientific and commercial information shows that 
the impacts of climate change will continue within the foreseeable 
future. Due to the magnitude and extent of the effects of climate 
change, we conclude that climate change constitutes a significant 
threat to the contiguous U.S. DPS of the wolverine in the foreseeable 
future.
    Collectively, human activities, including dispersed recreation 
activities, infrastructure, and the presence of transportation 
corridors, may result in reduced habitat value for wolverines. However, 
the alpine and subalpine habitats preferred by wolverine typically 
receive little human use relative to lower elevation habitats. The 
evidence at this time does not lead us to determine that human 
activities and developments by themselves pose a current threat to 
wolverines in the contiguous United States. The majority of wolverine 
habitat (90 percent) occurs within Forest Service and National Park 
Service lands that are subject to disturbance but not direct habitat 
loss to infrastructure development. The lack of information concerning 
the distribution and intensity of human activities, especially 
dispersed recreational activities, precludes us from determining they 
currently pose a threat to wolverines.
    Wolverines can coexist with some modification of their environment, 
as wilderness characteristics such as complete lack of motorized use or 
any permanent human presence are likely not critical for maintenance of 
populations. It is clear that wolverines can coexist with some level of 
human disturbance and habitat modification. How much is too much is not 
known. The proximity of wolverine habitats to areas heavily or 
moderately used for dispersed recreation needs more study, especially 
where there is overlap during the denning season. Effects of these 
activities on wolverine vital rates are unknown.
    We know of no examples where large areas of habitat, the size of a 
wolverine's home range or larger, have been rendered unsuitable due to 
human activities such as dispersed recreation. However, given the 
sensitivity of wolverines during the denning season and the increasing 
intensity of dispersed recreational activities in and around wolverine 
habitats, we believe this is an area that warrants further study so 
that determinations made in the future may be on firmer scientific 
ground.
    The effects of direct human disturbance associated with habitat 
modifications and usage occur throughout the range of wolverines. 
Little scientific or commercial information indicate effects to 
wolverines from habitat modifications, development, or human 
disturbances associated with them. What little information exists 
suggests that wolverines can adjust to moderate habitat modification, 
infrastructure development, and human disturbance. In addition, large 
amounts of wolverine habitat are protected from human disturbances and 
development, either legally through wilderness and National Park 
designation, or by being located at remote and high-elevation sites. 
Therefore, wolverines are afforded a relatively high degree of 
protection from the effects of human activities by the nature of their 
habitat. Wolverines are known to successfully disperse long distances 
between habitats through human-dominated landscapes and across 
transportation corridors. The current level of residential, industrial, 
and transportation development in the western United States does not 
appear to have precluded the long-distance dispersal movements that 
wolverines require for maintenance of genetic diversity.
    The impacts of climate change constitute a threat to the contiguous 
U.S. DPS of the wolverine, and will likely be irreversible within the 
foreseeable future. Due to the magnitude

[[Page 78050]]

and extent of the effects of climate change, we find that the 
contiguous U.S. DPS of the North American wolverine is likely to become 
in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future due to destruction, 
modification, and curtailment of its habitat and range by climate 
change.

Factor B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Over much of recent history, trapping has been a primary cause of 
wolverine mortality (Banci 1994, p. 108; Krebs et al. 2004, p. 497; 
Lofroth and Ott 2007, pp. 2196-2197; Squires et al. 2007, p. 2217). 
Unregulated trapping is believed to have played a role in the historic 
decline of wolverines in North America in the late 1800s and early 
1900s (Hash 1987, p. 580). Wolverines are especially vulnerable to 
targeted trapping and predator reduction campaigns due to their habit 
of ranging widely in search of carrion, which would bring them into 
frequent contact with poison baits and traps (Copeland 1996, p. 78; 
Inman et al. 2007a, pp. 4-10; Packila et al. 2007, p. 105; Squires et 
al. 2007, p. 2219).
    Human-caused mortality of wolverines is likely additive to natural 
mortality due to the low reproductive rate and relatively long life 
expectancy of wolverines (Krebs et al. 2004, p. 499; Lofroth and Ott 
2007, pp. 2197-2198; Squires et al. 2007, pp. 2218-2219). This means 
that trapped populations likely live at densities that are lower than 
carrying capacity, and may need to be reinforced by recruits from 
untrapped populations to maintain population viability and persistence.
    A study in British Columbia determined that, under a regulated 
trapping regime, trapping mortality in 15 of 71 wolverine population 
units was unsustainable, and that populations in those unsustainable 
population units are dependent on immigration from neighboring 
populations or untrapped refugia (Lofroth and Ott 2007, pp. 2197-2198). 
Similarly, in southwestern Montana, intensive legal trapping in 
isolated mountain ranges reduced local populations and was the dominant 
form of mortality for the duration of the study (Squires et al. 2007, 
pp. 2218-2219). The harvest levels observed, which included two 
pregnant females in a small mountain range, could have significant 
negative effects on a small population (Squires et al. 2007, p. 2219). 
Harvest refugia, such as national parks and large wilderness, are 
important to wolverine persistence on the landscape because they can 
serve as sources of surplus individuals to bolster trapped populations 
(Squires et al. 2007, p. 2219; Krebs and Ott 2004, p. 500). Glacier 
National Park, though an important refuge for a relatively robust 
population of wolverines, was still vulnerable to trapping because most 
resident wolverine home ranges extended into large areas outside the 
Park (Squires et al. 2007, p. 2219).
    Despite the impacts of trapping on wolverines in the past, trapping 
is no longer a threat within most of the wolverine range in the 
contiguous United States. Montana is the only State where wolverine 
trapping is still legal. Before 2004, average wolverine harvest was 
10.5 wolverines per year. Due to preliminary results of the study 
reported in Squires et al. (2007, pp. 2213-2220), the Montana 
Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks adopted new regulations for the 
2004-2005 trapping season that divided the State into three units, with 
the goal of spreading the harvest more equitably throughout the State.
    For the 2008-2009 trapping season, Montana Department of Fish, 
Wildlife, and Parks adjusted its wolverine trapping regulations again 
to further increase the geographic control on harvest to prevent 
concentrated trapping in any one area, and to completely stop trapping 
in isolated mountain ranges where small populations are most vulnerable 
(Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks 2010, pp. 8-11). Their 
new regulations spread harvest across three geographic units (the 
Northern Continental Divide area, the Greater Yellowstone area, and the 
Bitterroot Mountains), and establish a statewide limit of 5 wolverines. 
The 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 trapping seasons have resulted in four and 
three wolverines harvested, respectively (Montana Department of Fish 
Wildlife and Parks 2010, pp. 8-11). Under the current regulations, no 
more than three female wolverines can be legally harvested each year, 
and harvest in the more vulnerable isolated mountain ranges is 
prohibited.
    Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks conducts yearly 
monitoring using track surveys. Their protocol does not utilize 
verification methods such as DNA collection or camera stations to 
confirm identifications. Consequently, misidentifications are likely to 
occur. Given the relative rarity of wolverines and the relative 
abundance of other species with which they may be confused, such as 
bobcats, lynx, and bears, lack of certainty of identifications of 
tracks makes it highly likely that the rare species is over-represented 
in unverified tracking records (McKelvey et al. 2008, entire). The 
Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks wolverine track survey 
information does not meet our standard for verifiable or documented 
occurrence records described in the geographic distribution section, 
and we have not relied on this information in this finding.
    Montana wolverine populations have rebounded from historic lows in 
the early 1900s while at the same time being subject to regulated 
trapping (Aubry et al. 2007, p. 2151; Montana Department of Fish, 
Wildlife, and Parks 2007, p. 1). In fact, much of the wolverine 
expansion that we have described above took place under less-
restrictive harvest regulations than are in place today. Through their 
refinement of harvest regulations over the past 10 years, Montana 
Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks has demonstrated its commitment 
to adjust harvest management when evidence indicates it is necessary 
for conserving wolverine populations. Therefore, we conclude that, in 
the absence of other threats, harvest would not be likely to threaten 
State-wide wolverine populations in Montana, or to threaten the 
continued existence of the wolverine population in the contiguous 
United States. However, the additive mortality caused by trapping could 
become a concern in the future as the size of the wolverine population 
shrinks in response to the loss of habitat due to climate change 
described above.
    Current levels of incidental trapping (i.e., capture in traps set 
for species other than wolverine) and poisoning have been suggested to 
be a threat to wolverines, but no supporting information for this 
assertion is available.
Summary of Factor B
    Wolverine harvest affects one of the four States within the current 
range of North American wolverines in the contiguous United States. 
However, the State of Montana contains most of the habitat and 
wolverines that exist in the four States, and regulates trapping to 
reduce the impact of harvest on wolverine populations. We do not 
believe that the level of harvest in Montana, by itself, is a threat 
that causes the species within the contiguous United States to be in 
danger of extinction or likely to become in danger of extinction in the 
foreseeable future.
    Harvest, when combined with the other threats outlined in this 
finding, may contribute to the likelihood that the wolverine will 
become extirpated in the foreseeable future by increasing the speed 
with which small populations of wolverine are lost from isolated 
habitats, and also by increasing

[[Page 78051]]

mortality levels for dispersing wolverines that are required to 
maintain the genetics and demographics of wolverine populations in the 
contiguous United States. The willingness of the Montana Department of 
Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to adjust wolverine harvest management in 
reaction to new scientific information on the status of wolverines 
leads us to believe that the agency will continue to adjust harvest 
levels as needed, including suspension of harvest altogether should 
populations decline.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    Limited information is currently available on the potential effects 
of disease on wolverine populations. Wolverines are sometimes killed by 
wolves, black bears, and puma (Burkholder 1962, p. 264; Hornocker and 
Hash 1981, p. 1296; Copeland 1996, p. 44-46; Inman et al. 2007d, p. 
89). In addition, wolverine reproductive dens are likely subject to 
predation, although so few dens have been discovered in North America 
that determining the intensity of this predation is not possible.
Summary of Factor C
    Wolverine mortality from predation and disease do not appear to be 
above natural or sustainable levels, such that these factors would 
cause the species within the contiguous United States to be in danger 
of extinction or likely to become in danger of extinction in the 
foreseeable future.

Factor D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The majority (95 percent) of wolverine habitat currently occupied 
by wolverine populations in the lower contiguous United States is 
Federally owned and managed, mostly (90 percent) by the Forest Service. 
An estimated 126,302 km \2\ (49,258 mi \2\) of wolverine habitat occurs 
in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Of that, 120,000 km \2\ (46,332 mi \2\) 
is in Federal ownership and 109,000 km \2\ (42,085 mi \2\) of that is 
managed by the Forest Service. Additionally, 33,263 km (12,973 mi \2\) 
(26.3 percent) occurs in designated wilderness; 4,180 km \2\ (1,630 mi 
\2\) (3.3 percent) are in wilderness study areas. An additional 8,432 
km \2\ (3,288 mi \2\) (6.7 percent) are within national parks (Brock et 
al. 2007, pp. 33-35; Inman 2007b, pers. comm.). Thus, a total of 36.3 
percent of the estimated wolverine habitat in the three-State area 
occurs in locations with high levels of protection.
    No Federal or State regulatory mechanisms exist that address the 
threat of modification of wolverine habitat due to climate change. 
Several mechanisms exist that protect wolverine from other forms of 
disturbance and from overutilization from harvesting; these are 
described in more detail below.

Federal Laws and Regulations

The Wilderness Act

    The Forest Service and National Park Service both manage lands 
designated as wilderness areas under the Wilderness Act of 1964 (16 
U.S.C. 1131-1136). Within these areas, the Wilderness Act states the 
following: (1) New or temporary roads cannot be built; (2) there can be 
no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment, or motorboats; (3) there 
can be no landing of aircraft; (4) there can be no other form of 
mechanical transport; and (5) no structure or installation may be 
built. A large amount of suitable wolverine habitat occurs within 
Federal wilderness areas in the United States (Inman, personal 
communication 2007b). As such, a large proportion of existing wolverine 
habitat is protected from direct loss or degradation by the 
prohibitions of the Wilderness Act.

National Environmental Policy Act

    All Federal agencies are required to adhere to the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) for 
projects they fund, authorize, or carry out. The Council on 
Environmental Quality's regulations for implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 
1500-1518) state that agencies shall include a discussion on the 
environmental impacts of the various project alternatives (including 
the proposed action), any adverse environmental effects which cannot be 
avoided, and any irreversible or irretrievable commitments of resources 
involved (40 CFR part 1502). The NEPA itself is a disclosure law, and 
does not require subsequent minimization or mitigation measures by the 
Federal agency involved. Although Federal agencies may include 
conservation measures for wolverines as a result of the NEPA process, 
any such measures are typically voluntary in nature and are not 
required by the statute. Additionally, activities on non-Federal lands 
are subject to NEPA if there is a Federal nexus.
    For example, wolverines are designated as a sensitive species by 
the Forest Service, which requires that effects to wolverines be 
considered in documentation completed under NEPA. NEPA does not itself 
regulate activities that might affect wolverines, but it does require 
full evaluation and disclosure of information regarding the effects of 
contemplated Federal actions on sensitive species and their habitats.

National Forest Management Act

    Under the National Forest Management Act of 1976, as amended (16 
U.S.C. 1600-1614), the Forest Service shall strive to provide for a 
diversity of plant and animal communities when managing national forest 
lands. Individual national forests may identify species of concern that 
are significant to each forest's biodiversity. It is unknown what level 
of protection, if any, each of the individual national forests offer 
for wolverines. In many of the States in which wolverines are found, 
wolverines occur in wilderness areas and are thus protected under the 
Wilderness Act. Outside of wilderness but still on Forest Service-
managed lands, wolverines occur mainly in alpine areas, which are 
sensitive to negative habitat alterations. Their habitat is generally 
offered more protections from harvest or road building than would 
otherwise be the case in lowland areas.

National Park Service Organic Act

    The NPS Organic Act of 1916 (16 U.S.C. 1 et seq.), as amended, 
states that the NPS ``shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal 
areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations to conserve 
the scenery and the national and historic objects and the wildlife 
therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and 
by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future 
generations.'' Where wolverines occur in National Parks, they and their 
habitats are protected from large-scale loss or degradation due to the 
Park Service's mandate to ``* * * conserve scenery * * * and wildlife * 
* * [by leaving] them unimpaired.''

Clean Air Act of 1970

    The petitioners claim that wolverines are threatened by a lack of 
regulatory mechanisms to curb greenhouse gases that contribute to 
global temperature rises (Wolf et al. 2007, p. 50). As stated earlier 
under Factor A, our status review did reveal information that increased 
temperatures and loss of persistent spring snow are a significant 
threat to wolverines across the DPS range in the foreseeable future. No 
existing regulatory mechanisms adequately address global climate 
change. The Clean Air Act of 1970 (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.), as amended, 
requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and 
enforce regulations to protect the general public from exposure

[[Page 78052]]

to airborne contaminants that are known to be hazardous to human 
health. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that gases that cause global 
warming are pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and that the EPA has 
the authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases 
(Massachusetts et al. v. EPA 2007 [Case No. 05-1120]). The EPA 
published a regulation to require reporting of greenhouse gas emissions 
from fossil fuel suppliers and industrial gas suppliers, direct 
greenhouse gas emitters, and manufacturers of heavy-duty and off-road 
vehicles and engines (74 FR 56260; October 30, 2009). The rule, 
effective December 29, 2009, does not require control of greenhouse 
gases; rather it requires only that sources above certain threshold 
levels monitor and report emissions (74 FR 56260; October 30, 2009). On 
December 7, 2009, the EPA found under section 202(a) of the Clean Air 
Act that the current and projected concentrations of six greenhouse 
gases in the atmosphere threaten public health and welfare. The finding 
itself does not impose requirements on any industry or other entities 
but is a prerequisite for any future regulations developed by the EPA. 
At this time, it is not known what regulatory mechanisms will be 
developed in the future as an outgrowth of the finding or how effective 
they would be in addressing climate change.

State Laws and Regulations

State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategies and State 
Environmental Policy and Protection Acts

    The wolverine is listed as State Endangered in Washington, 
California, and Colorado. In Idaho and Wyoming it is designated as a 
protected nongame species (Idaho Department of Fish and Game 2010, p. 
4; Wyoming Game and Fish 2005, p. 2). Oregon, while currently not 
considered to have any individuals other than possible unsuccessful 
dispersers, has a closed season on trapping of wolverines. These 
designations largely protect the wolverine from mortality due to 
hunting and trapping. In Montana, the wolverine is classified as a 
regulated furbearer (Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks 2010, p. 8). 
Montana is the only State in the contiguous United States where 
wolverine trapping is still legal.
    Wolverines receive some protection under State laws in Washington, 
California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Each State's fish 
and wildlife agency has some version of a State Comprehensive Wildlife 
Conservation Strategy (CWCS) in place. These strategies, while not 
State or national legislation can help prioritize conservation actions 
within each State. Named species and habitats within each CWCS may 
receive focused attention during State Environmental Protection Act 
(SEPA) reviews as a result of being included in a State's CWCS. 
However, only Washington, California, and Montana appear to have SEPA-
type regulations in place. In addition, each State's fish and wildlife 
agency often specifically names or implies protection of wolverines in 
their hunting and trapping regulations. Only the State of Montana 
currently allows wolverine harvest.
    Before 2004, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks 
regulated wolverine harvest through the licensing of trappers, a bag 
limit of one wolverine per year per trapper, and no statewide limit. 
Under this management, average wolverine harvest was 10.5 wolverines 
per year. Due to preliminary results of the study reported in Squires 
et al. (2007, pp. 2213-2220), Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and 
Parks adopted new regulations for the 2004-2005 trapping season that 
divided the State into three units with the goal of spreading the 
harvest more equitably throughout the State. In 2008, Montana 
Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks further refined their 
regulations to prohibit trapping in isolated mountain ranges, and 
reduced the overall statewide harvest to 5 wolverines with a statewide 
female harvest limit of 3. We conclude that trapping in Montana, by 
itself, is not a threat to the wolverine DPS, but that by working in 
concert with the primary threat of climate change, the trapping program 
may contribute to population declines caused by other threats. 
Therefore, we conclude that wolverine harvest is a secondary threat to 
wolverines.
Summary of Factor D
    The existing regulatory mechanisms appear to protect wolverine from 
several of the threats described in Factors A through C above. 
Specifically, State regulations for wolverine harvest appear to be 
sufficient to prohibit range-wide overutilization from hunting and 
trapping in the absence of other threats. Federal ownership of much of 
occupied wolverine habitat protects the species from direct losses of 
habitat and provides further protection from many of the forms of 
disturbance described above. Wolverines can use habitats affected by 
moderate levels of human disturbance, and additional protection is 
afforded wolverines by the significant portion of their range that 
occurs in designated wilderness and national parks. The current 
regulatory regime does not address the potential impacts of dispersed 
winter recreation; however, at this time the available information does 
not suggest that dispersed winter recreation is a threat. That being 
the case, all of these potential threats are likely to have local 
impacts on wolverines, and cumulatively, they may act in concert with 
the primary threat of climate change to threaten wolverine populations. 
Therefore, we conclude it is appropriate to view them as secondary 
threats to the wolverine DPS.
    Our review of the regulatory mechanisms in place at the national 
and State level demonstrates that the short-term, site-specific threats 
to wolverine from direct loss of habitat, disturbance by humans, and 
direct mortality from hunting and trapping are, for the most part, 
adequately addressed through State and Federal regulatory mechanisms. 
However, as described under Factor A, the primary threat with the 
greatest severity and magnitude of impact to the species is loss of 
habitat due to continuing climate warming. No known regulatory 
mechanisms are currently in place at the national or international 
level that effectively address this threat to wolverine habitat from 
climate change. Therefore, the current inadequacy of regulatory 
mechanisms to protect wolverines and their habitat is a threat to the 
DPS.

Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued 
Existence

Small Population Size
    Wolverines in the contiguous United States are thought to be 
derived from a recent re-colonization event after they were extirpated 
from the area in the early 20th century (Aubry et al. 2007, Table 1, 
Michael Schwartz, pers. comm.). Consequently, wolverine populations in 
the contiguous United States have reduced genetic diversity relative to 
larger Canadian populations as a result of founder effects or 
inbreeding (Schwartz et al. 2009, pp. 3228-3230). As described in the 
DPS analysis above, wolverine effective population size in the 
contiguous United States is exceptionally low (Schwartz 2007, pers. 
comm.) and is below what is thought to be adequate for short-term 
maintenance of genetic diversity. Loss of genetic diversity can lead to 
inbreeding depression and is associated with increased risk of 
extinction (Allendorf and Luikart 2007, pp. 338-343). Effective 
population size is important because it determines rates of loss of 
genetic variation, fixation of deleterious alleles, and the rate of

[[Page 78053]]

inbreeding. Small effective population sizes are caused by small actual 
population size (census size), or by other factors that limit the 
genetic contribution of portions of the population, such as polygamous 
mating systems. Populations may increase their effective size by 
increasing census size or by the regular exchange of genetic material 
with other populations through inter-population mating. Populations 
with small effective population sizes show reductions in population 
growth rates and increases in extinction probabilities (Leberg 1990, p. 
194; Jimenez et al. 1994, pp. 272-273; Newman and Pilson 1997, p. 360; 
Saccheri et al. 1998, p. 492; Reed and Bryant 2000, p. 11; Schwartz and 
Mills 2005, p. 419; Hogg et al. 2006, p. 1495, 1498; Allendorf and 
Luikart 2007, pp. 338-342).
    The concern with the low effective population size was highlighted 
in a recent analysis which determined that without immigration from 
other populations at least 400 breeding pairs would be necessary to 
sustain the long-term genetic viability of the contiguous U.S. 
wolverine population (Cegelski et al. 2006, p. 197). However, the 
entire population is likely only 250 to 300 (Inman 2010b, pers. comm.), 
with a substantial number of these being unsuccessful breeders or 
nonbreeding subadults.
    Genetic studies demonstrate the essential role that genetic 
exchange plays in maintaining genetic diversity in small wolverine 
populations. The concern that low effective population size would 
result in negative effects is already being realized for the contiguous 
U.S. population of wolverine. Genetic drift has already occurred in 
subpopulations of the contiguous United States: wolverines here 
contained 3 of 13 haplotypes found in Canadian populations (Kyle and 
Strobeck 2001, p. 343; Cegelski et al. 2003, pp. 2914-2915; Cegelski et 
al. 2006, p. 208; Schwartz et al. 2007, p. 2176; Schwartz et al. 2009, 
p. 3229). The haplotypes found in these populations were a subset of 
those in the larger Canadian population, indicating that genetic drift 
had caused a loss of genetic diversity. One study found that a single 
haplotype dominated the northern Rocky Mountain wolverine population, 
with 71 of 73 wolverines sampled expressing that haplotype (Schwartz et 
al. 2007, p. 2176). The reduced number of haplotypes indicates not only 
that genetic drift is occurring but some level of genetic separation; 
if these populations were freely interbreeding, they would share more 
haplotypes (Schwartz et al. 2009, p. 3229). The reduction of haplotypes 
is likely a result of the fragmented nature of wolverine habitat in the 
United States and is consistent with an emerging pattern of reduced 
genetic variation at the southern edge of the range documented in a 
suite of boreal forest carnivores (Schwartz et al. 2007, p. 2177).
    Immigration of wolverines from Canada is not likely to bolster the 
genetic diversity of wolverines in the contiguous United States. There 
is an apparent lack of connectivity between wolverine populations in 
Canada and the United States based on genetic data (Schwartz et al. 
2009, pp. 3228-3230). The apparent loss of connectivity between 
wolverines in the northern Rocky Mountains and Canada prevents the 
influx of genetic material needed to maintain or increase the genetic 
diversity in the contiguous United States. The continued loss of 
genetic diversity may lead to inbreeding depression, potentially 
reducing the species' ability to persist through reduced reproductive 
output or reduced survival. Currently, the cause for this lack of 
connectivity is uncertain, and existing regulatory mechanisms may be 
inadequate to address population connectivity. Wolverine habitat 
appears to be well-connected across the border region (Copeland et al. 
2010, Figure 2) and there are few man-made obstructions such as 
transportation corridors or alpine developments. However, this lack of 
genetically detectable connectivity may be related to harvest 
management in southern Canada. The current inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms to address connectivity across the international 
boundary may pose a risk to wolverines in the contiguous United States 
in the future through reduced effective population size resulting in 
potential loss of genetic diversity through inbreeding.
Summary of Factor E
    Small population size and inbreeding depression are potential 
threats to wolverines in the contiguous United States. There is good 
evidence that genetic diversity is lower in wolverines in the DPS than 
it is in the more contiguous habitat in Canada and Alaska. The 
significance of this lower genetic diversity to wolverine conservation 
is unknown. We do not discount the possibility that loss of genetic 
diversity could be negatively affecting wolverines now and will 
continue to do so in the future. It is important to point out however, 
that wolverine populations in the DPS area are thought to be the result 
of colonization events that have occurred since the 1930s. Such recent 
colonizations by relatively few individuals and subsequent population 
growth are likely to have resulted in founder effects, which could have 
contributed to the low genetic diversity. The threat of small 
population sizes and low genetic diversity is likely to become more 
significant if populations become smaller and more isolated, as 
predicted due to climate changes. Restoration of connectivity with 
Canadian populations may require international cooperation to establish 
appropriate control of exploitation in the international border region. 
Therefore, it is our determination that small population size and 
inbreeding depression are a secondary threat to the DPS that may 
contribute to wolverine declines, especially as projected climate 
changes reduce overall habitat size and connectivity between habitat 
patches.

Finding

    As required by the Act, we conducted a review of the status of the 
DPS and considered the five factors in assessing whether wolverines in 
the contiguous United States are threatened or endangered throughout 
all or a significant portion of their range. We examined the best 
scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, 
present, and future threats faced by wolverines. We reviewed the 
petition, information available in our files, other available published 
and unpublished information, and we consulted with wolverine and 
wolverine habitat experts and other Federal, State, and tribal 
agencies. In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must 
look beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine 
whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual 
impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no 
response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If 
there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may 
be a threat and we then attempt to determine how significant a threat 
it is. If the threat is significant, it may drive or contribute to the 
risk of extinction of the species such that the species warrants 
listing as threatened or endangered as those terms are defined by the 
Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof of a threat. The 
combination of exposure and some corroborating evidence of how the 
species is likely impacted could suffice. The mere identification of 
factors that could impact a species negatively is not sufficient to 
compel a finding that

[[Page 78054]]

listing is appropriate; we require evidence that these factors are 
operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species 
meets the definition of threatened or endangered under the Act.
    This status review identified threats to the contiguous U.S. 
population of the North American wolverine attributable to Factors A, 
B, D, and E. The primary threat to the DPS is from habitat and range 
loss due to climate warming (Factor A). Wolverines inhabit habitats 
with near-arctic conditions wherever they occur. In the contiguous 
United States, wolverine habitat is restricted to high-elevation areas 
in the West. Wolverines are dependent on deep persistent snow cover for 
successful denning, and they concentrate their year-round activities in 
areas that maintain deep snow into spring and cool temperatures 
throughout summer. Wolverines in the contiguous United States exist as 
small and semi-isolated subpopulations in a larger metapopulation that 
requires regular dispersal of wolverines between habitat patches to 
maintain itself. These dispersers achieve both genetic enrichment and 
demographic support of recipient populations. Climate changes are 
predicted to reduce wolverine habitat and range by 23 percent over the 
next 30 years and 63 percent over the next 75 years, rendering 
remaining wolverine habitat significantly smaller and more fragmented. 
We anticipate that, by 2045, maintenance of the contiguous U.S. 
wolverine population in the currently occupied area will require human 
intervention to facilitate genetic exchange and possibly also 
facilitate metapopulation dynamics by moving individuals between 
habitat patches that are no longer accessed regularly by dispersers. 
Other threats are minor in comparison to the driving primary threat of 
climate change; however, they could become significant when working in 
concert with climate change if they further suppress an already 
stressed population. These secondary threats include harvest (Factor 
B), disturbance, infrastructure, and transportation corridors (Factor 
D), and demographic stochasticity and loss of genetic diversity due to 
small effective population sizes (Factor E). All of these factors 
affect wolverines across their current range in the contiguous United 
States
    On the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available, 
we find that the petitioned action, to list the North American 
wolverine population in the contiguous United States as threatened or 
endangered is warranted. We arrive at this determination due to the 
current status of wolverines in the contiguous United States, which 
exist as a small (250-300 individuals) and genetically depauperate (3 
of 13 haplotypes) metapopulation with limited dispersal between 
subpopulations. This information, when combined with information about 
the primary and secondary threats indicates that wolverines are likely 
to lose 63 percent of their current habitat area over the next century. 
We will make a determination on the status of the species as threatened 
or endangered when we do a proposed listing determination. However, as 
explained in more detail below, an immediate proposal of a regulation 
implementing this action is precluded by higher priority listing 
actions, and progress is being made to add or remove qualified species 
from the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.
    We reviewed the available information to determine if the existing 
and foreseeable threats render the species at risk of extinction now 
such that issuing an emergency regulation temporarily listing the 
species under section 4(b)(7) of the Act is warranted. We determined 
that issuing an emergency regulation temporarily listing the species is 
not warranted for this species at this time, because the effects of 
climate warming on wolverines and their habitat are expected to unfold 
over many years and populations currently appear to be stable or 
expanding. However, if at any time we determine that issuing an 
emergency regulation temporarily listing the North American wolverine 
in the contiguous United States is warranted, we will initiate this 
action at that time.

Listing Priority Number

    The Service adopted guidelines on September 21, 1983 (48 FR 43098), 
to establish a rational system for utilizing available resources for 
the highest priority species when adding species to the Lists of 
Endangered or Threatened Wildlife and Plants or reclassifying species 
listed as threatened to endangered status. These guidelines, titled 
``Endangered and Threatened Species Listing and Recovery Priority 
Guidelines'' address the immediacy and magnitude of threats, and the 
level of taxonomic distinctiveness by assigning priority in descending 
order to monotypic genera (genus with one species), full species, and 
subspecies (or equivalently, distinct population segments of 
vertebrates).
    As a result of our analysis of the best available scientific and 
commercial information, we assigned wolverines in the contiguous United 
States a Listing Priority Number (LPN) of 6 based on our finding that 
the DPS faces threats that are of high magnitude but that are not 
imminent. The primary threat includes the present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of wolverine habitat from 
climate change; and the secondary threats are associated with Factors 
B, D, and E.
    Under the Service's guidelines, the magnitude of threat is the 
first criterion we look at when establishing a listing priority. The 
guidance indicates that species with the highest magnitude of threat 
are those species facing the greatest threats to their continued 
existence. These species receive the highest listing priority. We 
consider the threats that wolverines face to be high in magnitude 
because the threat of climate change is present throughout the range of 
the DPS.
    Under our LPN guidelines, the second criterion we consider in 
assigning a listing priority is the immediacy of threats. This 
criterion is intended to ensure that the species facing actual, 
identifiable threats are given priority over those species for which 
threats are only potential or that are intrinsically vulnerable but are 
not known to be presently facing such threats. The primary threat 
facing the DPS is not imminent. The threat from climate change is 
reasonably certain to occur, and its effects may be particularly acute 
for small, isolated populations, but we have no evidence that these 
effects are imminent (ongoing). The other identified threats were 
determined only to be potential threats when acting in concert with the 
driving threat of climate change. Therefore, based on our LPN Policy, 
the threats are not imminent (ongoing).
    The third criterion in our LPN guidelines is intended to devote 
resources to those species representing highly distinctive or isolated 
gene pools as reflected by taxonomy. We determined wolverines of the 
contiguous United States are a valid DPS according to our DPS Policy. 
Therefore, under our LPN guidance, the wolverine in the contiguous 
United States is assigned a lower priority than a species in a 
monotypic genus or a full species that faces the same magnitude and 
imminence of threats.
    Therefore, we assigned the DPS an LPN of 6 based on our 
determination that the DPS faces threats that are overall of high 
magnitude but are not imminent. We will continue to monitor the threats 
to wolverines in the contiguous United States, and the DPS' status on 
an annual basis, and should the magnitude or the imminence of the

[[Page 78055]]

threats change, we will revisit our assessment of LPN.

Preclusion and Expeditious Progress

    Preclusion is a function of the listing priority of a species in 
relation to the resources that are available and competing demands for 
those resources. Thus, in any given fiscal year (FY), multiple factors 
dictate whether it will be possible to undertake work on a proposed 
listing regulation or whether promulgation of such a proposal is 
warranted but precluded by higher priority listing actions.
    The resources available for listing actions are determined through 
the annual Congressional appropriations process. The appropriation for 
the Listing Program is available to support work involving the 
following listing actions: Proposed and final listing rules; 90-day and 
12-month findings on petitions to add species to the Lists of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (Lists) or to change the 
status of a species from threatened to endangered; annual 
determinations on prior ``warranted but precluded'' petition findings 
as required under section 4(b)(3)(C)(i) of the Act; critical habitat 
petition findings; proposed and final rules designating critical 
habitat; and litigation-related, administrative, and program-management 
functions (including preparing and allocating budgets, responding to 
congressional and public inquiries, and conducting public outreach 
regarding listing and critical habitat). The work involved in preparing 
various listing documents can be extensive and may include, but is not 
limited to: Gathering and assessing the best scientific and commercial 
data available and conducting analyses used as the basis for our 
decisions; writing and publishing documents; and obtaining, reviewing, 
and evaluating public comments and peer review comments on proposed 
rules and incorporating relevant information into final rules. The 
number of listing actions that we can undertake in a given year also is 
influenced by the complexity of those listing actions; that is, more 
complex actions generally are more costly. For example, during the past 
several years, the cost (excluding publication costs) for preparing a 
12-month finding, without a proposed rule, has ranged from 
approximately $11,000 for one species with a restricted range and 
involving a relatively uncomplicated analysis to $305,000 for another 
species that is wide-ranging and involving a complex analysis.
    We cannot spend more than is appropriated for the Listing Program 
without violating the Anti-Deficiency Act (see 31 U.S.C. 
1341(a)(1)(A)). In addition, in FY 1998 and for each FY since then, 
Congress has placed a statutory cap on funds which may be expended for 
the Listing Program, equal to the amount expressly appropriated for 
that purpose in that FY. This cap was designed to prevent funds 
appropriated for other functions under the Act (for example, recovery 
funds for removing species from the Lists), or for other Service 
programs, from being used for Listing Program actions (see House Report 
105-163, 105th Congress, 1st Session, July 1, 1997).
    Recognizing that designation of critical habitat for species 
already listed would consume most of the overall Listing Program 
appropriation, Congress also put a critical habitat subcap in place in 
FY 2002 and has retained it each subsequent year to ensure that some 
funds are available for other work in the Listing Program: ``The 
critical habitat designation subcap will ensure that some funding is 
available to address other listing activities'' (House Report No. 107--
103, 107th Congress, 1st Session, June 19, 2001). In FY 2002 and each 
year until FY 2006, the Service has had to use virtually the entire 
critical habitat subcap to address court-mandated designations of 
critical habitat, and consequently none of the critical habitat subcap 
funds have been available for other listing activities. In some FYs 
since 2006, we have been able to use some of the critical habitat 
subcap funds to fund proposed listing determinations for high-priority 
candidate species. In other FYs, while we were unable to use any of the 
critical habitat subcap funds to fund proposed listing determinations, 
we did use some of this money to fund the critical habitat portion of 
some proposed listing determinations so that the proposed listing 
determination and proposed critical habitat designation could be 
combined into one rule, thereby being more efficient in our work. In FY 
2011 we anticipate that we will be able to use some of the critical 
habitat subcap funds to fund proposed listing determinations.
    We make our determinations of preclusion on a nationwide basis to 
ensure that the species most in need of listing will be addressed first 
and also because we allocate our listing budget on a nationwide basis. 
Through the listing cap, the critical habitat subcap, and the amount of 
funds needed to address court-mandated critical habitat designations, 
Congress and the courts have in effect determined the amount of money 
available for other listing activities nationwide. Therefore, the funds 
in the listing cap, other than those needed to address court-mandated 
critical habitat for already listed species, set the limits on our 
determinations of preclusion and expeditious progress.
    Congress identified the availability of resources as the only basis 
for deferring the initiation of a rulemaking that is warranted. The 
Conference Report accompanying Public Law 97-304, which established the 
current statutory deadlines and the warranted-but-precluded finding, 
states that the amendments were ``not intended to allow the Secretary 
to delay commencing the rulemaking process for any reason other than 
that the existence of pending or imminent proposals to list species 
subject to a greater degree of threat would make allocation of 
resources to such a petition [that is, for a lower-ranking species] 
unwise.'' Although that statement appeared to refer specifically to the 
``to the maximum extent practicable'' limitation on the 90-day deadline 
for making a ``substantial information'' finding, that finding is made 
at the point when the Service is deciding whether or not to commence a 
status review that will determine the degree of threats facing the 
species, and therefore the analysis underlying the statement is more 
relevant to the use of the warranted-but-precluded finding, which is 
made when the Service has already determined the degree of threats 
facing the species and is deciding whether or not to commence a 
rulemaking.
    In FY 2010, $10,471,000 is the amount of money that Congress 
appropriated for the Listing Program (that is, the portion of the 
Listing Program funding not related to critical habitat designations 
for species that are already listed). Therefore, a proposed listing is 
precluded if pending proposals with higher priority will require 
expenditure of at least $10,471,000, and expeditious progress is the 
amount of work that can be achieved with $10,471,000. Since court 
orders requiring critical habitat work will not require use of all of 
the funds within the critical habitat subcap, we used $1,114,417 of our 
critical habitat subcap funds in order to work on as many of our 
required petition findings and listing determinations as possible. This 
brings the total amount of funds we had for listing actions in FY 2010 
to $11,585,417.
    The $11,585,417 was used to fund work in the following categories: 
compliance with court orders and court-approved settlement agreements 
requiring that petition findings or listing determinations be completed 
by a specific date; section 4 (of the Act) listing actions with 
absolute statutory deadlines; essential litigation-related,

[[Page 78056]]

administrative, and listing program-management functions; and high-
priority listing actions for some of our candidate species. For FY 
2011, on September 29, 2010, Congress passed a continuing resolution 
which provides funding at the FY 2010 enacted level. Until Congress 
appropriates funds for FY 2011, we will fund listing work based on the 
FY 2010 amount. In 2009, the responsibility for listing foreign species 
under the Act was transferred from the Division of Scientific 
Authority, International Affairs Program, to the Endangered Species 
Program. Therefore, starting in FY 2010, we use a portion of our 
funding to work on the actions described above as they apply to listing 
actions for foreign species. This has the potential to further reduce 
funding available for domestic listing actions. Although there are 
currently no foreign species issues included in our high-priority 
listing actions at this time, many actions have statutory or court-
approved settlement deadlines, thus increasing their priority. The 
budget allocations for each specific listing action are identified in 
the Service's FY 2011 Allocation Table (part of our administrative 
record).
    Based on our September 21, 1983, guidance for assigning an LPN for 
each candidate species (48 FR 43098), we have a significant number of 
species with an LPN of 2. Using this guidance, we assign each candidate 
an LPN of 1 to 12, depending on the magnitude of threats (high vs. 
moderate to low), immediacy of threats (imminent or nonimminent), and 
taxonomic status of the species (in order of priority: monotypic genus 
(a species that is the sole member of a genus); species; or part of a 
species (subspecies, distinct population segment, or significant 
portion of the range)). The lower the listing priority number, the 
higher the listing priority (that is, a species with an LPN of 1 would 
have the highest listing priority).
    Because of the large number of high-priority species, we have 
further ranked the candidate species with an LPN of 2 by using the 
following extinction-risk type criteria: International Union for the 
Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red list status/
rank, Heritage rank (provided by NatureServe), Heritage threat rank 
(provided by NatureServe), and species currently with fewer than 50 
individuals, or 4 or fewer populations. Those species with the highest 
IUCN rank (critically endangered), the highest Heritage rank (G1), the 
highest Heritage threat rank (substantial, imminent threats), and 
currently with fewer than 50 individuals, or fewer than 4 populations, 
originally comprised a group of approximately 40 candidate species 
(``Top 40''). These 40 candidate species have had the highest priority 
to receive funding to work on a proposed listing determination. As we 
work on proposed and final listing rules for those 40 candidates, we 
apply the ranking criteria to the next group of candidates with an LPN 
of 2 and 3 to determine the next set of highest priority candidate 
species. Finally, proposed rules for reclassification of threatened 
species to endangered are lower priority, since as listed species, they 
are already afforded the protection of the Act and implementing 
regulations. However, for efficiency reasons, we may choose to work on 
a proposed rule to reclassify a species to endangered if we can combine 
this with work that is subject to a court-determined deadline.
    With our workload so much bigger than the amount of funds we have 
to accomplish it, it is important that we be as efficient as possible 
in our listing process. Therefore, as we work on proposed rules for the 
highest priority species in the next several years, we are preparing 
multi-species proposals when appropriate, and these may include species 
with lower priority if they overlap geographically or have the same 
threats as a species with an LPN of 2. In addition, we take into 
consideration the availability of staff resources when we determine 
which high-priority species will receive funding to minimize the amount 
of time and resources required to complete each listing action.
    We assigned wolverines in the contiguous United States an LPN of 6, 
based on our finding that the DPS faces nonimminent but high-magnitude 
threats from the primary threat of the present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat from climate 
change; and the secondary threats associated with Factors B, D, and E. 
These threats are expected to affect wolverine populations in the 
future. Under our 1983 Guidelines, a ``species'' facing nonimminent 
high-magnitude threats is assigned an LPN of 4, 5, or 6, depending on 
its taxonomic status. Work on a proposed listing determination for 
wolverines in the contiguous United States is precluded by work on 
higher priority candidate species (i.e., species with LPN of 5 or 
less); listing actions with absolute statutory, court-ordered, or 
court-approved deadlines; and final listing determinations for those 
species that were proposed for listing with funds from previous FYs. 
This work includes all the actions listed in the tables below under 
expeditious progress.
    As explained above, a determination that listing is warranted but 
precluded must also demonstrate that expeditious progress is being made 
to add and remove qualified species to and from the Lists of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. As with our ``precluded'' finding, 
the evaluation of whether progress in adding qualified species to the 
Lists has been expeditious is a function of the resources available for 
listing and the competing demands for those funds. (Although we do not 
discuss it in detail here, we are also making expeditious progress in 
removing species from the list under the Recovery program in light of 
the resource available for delisting, which is funded by a separate 
line item in the budget of the Endangered Species Program. During FY 
2010, we have completed two proposed delisting rules and two final 
delisting rules.) Given the limited resources available for listing, we 
find that we made expeditious progress in FY 2010 in the Listing 
Program and are making expeditious progress in FY 2011. This progress 
included preparing and publishing the determinations presented in Table 
3.

                             Table 3--FY 2010 and FY 2011 Completed Listing Actions
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Publication date                        Title                     Actions                FR Pages
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
10/08/2009..........................  Listing Lepidium              Final Listing,             74 FR 52013-52064
                                       papilliferum (Slickspot       Threatened.
                                       Peppergrass) as a
                                       Threatened Species
                                       Throughout Its Range.
10/27/2009..........................  90[dash]day Finding on a      Notice of 90-day           74 FR 55177-55180
                                       Petition To List the          Petition Finding, Not
                                       American Dipper in the        Substantial.
                                       Black Hills of South Dakota
                                       as Threatened or Endangered.
10/28/2009..........................  Status Review of Arctic       Notice of Intent to        74 FR 55524-55525
                                       Grayling (Thymallus           Conduct Status Review.
                                       arcticus) in the Upper
                                       Missouri River System.

[[Page 78057]]

 
11/03/2009..........................  Listing the British Columbia  Proposed Listing           74 FR 56757-56770
                                       Distinct Population Segment   Threatened.
                                       of the Queen Charlotte
                                       Goshawk Under the Act:
                                       Proposed rule.
11/03/2009..........................  Listing the Salmon-Crested    Proposed Listing           74 FR 56770-56791
                                       Cockatoo as Threatened        Threatened.
                                       Throughout Its Range with
                                       Special Rule.
11/23/2009..........................  Status Review of Gunnison     Notice of Intent to        74 FR 61100-61102
                                       sage-grouse (Centrocercus     Conduct Status Review.
                                       minimus).
12/03/2009..........................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         74 FR 63343-63366
                                       Petition to List the Black-   Petition Finding, Not
                                       tailed Prairie Dog as         warranted.
                                       Threatened or Endangered.
12/03/2009..........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           74 FR 63337-63343
                                       to List Sprague's Pipit as    Petition Finding,
                                       Threatened or Endangered.     Substantial.
12/15/2009..........................  90-Day Finding on Petitions   Notice of 90-day           74 FR 66260-66271
                                       To List 9 Species of          Petition Finding,
                                       Mussels From Texas as         Substantial.
                                       Threatened or Endangered
                                       With Critical Habitat.
12/16/2009..........................  Partial 90-Day Finding on a   Notice of 90-day           74 FR 66865-66905
                                       Petition to List 475          Petition Finding, Not
                                       Species in the Southwestern   Substantial &
                                       United States as Threatened   Subtantial.
                                       or Endangered With Critical
                                       Habitat.
12/17/2009..........................  12-month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         74 FR 66937-66950
                                       Petition To Change the        Petition Finding,
                                       Final Listing of the          Warranted but
                                       Distinct Population Segment   Precluded.
                                       of the Canada Lynx To
                                       Include New Mexico.
01/05/2010..........................  Listing Foreign Bird Species  Proposed Listing,              75 FR 605-649
                                       in Peru & Bolivia as          Endangered.
                                       Endangered Throughout Their
                                       Range.
01/05/2010..........................  Listing Six Foreign Birds as  Proposed Listing,              75 FR 286-310
                                       Endangered Throughout Their   Endangered.
                                       Range.
01/05/2010..........................  Withdrawal of Proposed Rule   Proposed rule,                 75 FR 310-316
                                       to List Cook's Petrel.        Withdrawal.
01/05/2010..........................  Final Rule to List the        Final Listing,                 75 FR 235-250
                                       Galapagos Petrel &            Threatened.
                                       Heinroth's Shearwater as
                                       Threatened Throughout Their
                                       Ranges.
01/20/2010..........................  Initiation of Status Review   Notice of Intent to          75 FR 3190-3191
                                       for Agave eggersiana &        Conduct Status Review.
                                       Solanum conocarpum.
02/09/2010..........................  12-month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month           75 FR 6437-6471
                                       Petition to List the          Petition Finding, Not
                                       American Pika as Threatened   Warranted.
                                       or Endangered.
02/25/2010..........................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month           75 FR 8601-8621
                                       Petition To List the          Petition Finding, Not
                                       Sonoran Desert Population     Warranted.
                                       of the Bald Eagle as a
                                       Threatened or Endangered
                                       Distinct Population Segment.
02/25/2010..........................  Withdrawal of Proposed Rule   Withdrawal of Proposed       75 FR 8621-8644
                                       To List the Southwestern      Rule to List.
                                       Washington/Columbia River
                                       Distinct Population Segment
                                       of Coastal Cutthroat Trout
                                       (Oncorhynchus clarki
                                       clarki) as Threatened.
03/18/2010..........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 13068-13071
                                       to List the Berry Cave        Petition Finding,
                                       salamander as Endangered.     Substantial.
03/23/2010..........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 13717-13720
                                       to List the Southern          Petition Finding, Not
                                       Hickorynut Mussel (Obovaria   Substantial.
                                       jacksoniana) as Endangered
                                       or Threatened.
03/23/2010..........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 13720-13726
                                       to List the Striped Newt as   Petition Finding,
                                       Threatened.                   Substantial.
03/23/2010..........................  12-Month Findings for         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 13910-14014
                                       Petitions to List the         Petition Finding,
                                       Greater Sage-Grouse           Warranted but
                                       (Centrocercus urophasianus)   Precluded.
                                       as Threatened or Endangered.
03/31/2010..........................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 16050-16065
                                       Petition to List the Tucson   Petition Finding,
                                       Shovel-Nosed Snake            Warranted but
                                       (Chionactis occipitalis       Precluded.
                                       klauberi) as Threatened or
                                       Endangered with Critical
                                       Habitat.
04/05/2010..........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 17062-17070
                                       To List Thorne's Hairstreak   Petition Finding,
                                       Butterfly as or Endangered.   Substantial.
04/06/2010..........................  12-month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 17352-17363
                                       Petition To List the          Petition Finding, Not
                                       Mountain Whitefish in the     Warranted.
                                       Big Lost River, Idaho, as
                                       Endangered or Threatened.
04/06/2010..........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 17363-17367
                                       to List a Stonefly            Petition Finding, Not
                                       (Isoperla jewetti) & a        Substantial.
                                       Mayfly (Fallceon eatoni) as
                                       Threatened or Endangered
                                       with Critical Habitat.
04/07/2010..........................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 17667-17680
                                       Petition to Reclassify the    Petition Finding,
                                       Delta Smelt From Threatened   Warranted but
                                       to Endangered Throughout      Precluded.
                                       Its Range.
04/13/2010..........................  Determination of Endangered   Final Listing,             75 FR 18959-19165
                                       Status for 48 Species on      Endangered.
                                       Kauai & Designation of
                                       Critical Habitat.
04/15/2010..........................  Initiation of Status Review   Notice of Initiation of    75 FR 19591-19592
                                       of the North American         Status Review.
                                       Wolverine in the Contiguous
                                       United States.
04/15/2010..........................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 19592-19607
                                       Petition to List the          Petition Finding, Not
                                       Wyoming Pocket Gopher as      Warranted.
                                       Endangered or Threatened
                                       with Critical Habitat.

[[Page 78058]]

 
04/16/2010..........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 19925-19935
                                       to List a Distinct            Petition Finding,
                                       Population Segment of the     Substantial.
                                       Fisher in Its United States
                                       Northern Rocky Mountain
                                       Range as Endangered or
                                       Threatened with Critical
                                       Habitat.
04/20/2010..........................  Initiation of Status Review   Notice of Initiation of    75 FR 20547-20548
                                       for Sacramento splittail      Status Review.
                                       (Pogonichthys
                                       macrolepidotus).
04/26/2010..........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 21568-21571
                                       to List the Harlequin         Petition Finding,
                                       Butterfly as Endangered.      Substantial.
04/27/2010..........................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 22012-22025
                                       Petition to List Susan's      Petition Finding, Not
                                       Purse-making Caddisfly        Warranted.
                                       (Ochrotrichia susanae) as
                                       Threatened or Endangered.
04/27/2010..........................  90-day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 22063-22070
                                       to List the Mohave Ground     Petition Finding,
                                       Squirrel as Endangered with   Substantial.
                                       Critical Habitat.
05/04/2010..........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 23654-23663
                                       to List Hermes Copper         Petition Finding,
                                       Butterfly as Threatened or    Substantial.
                                       Endangered.
6/1/2010............................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 30313-30318
                                       To List Castanea pumila       Petition Finding,
                                       var. ozarkensis.              Substantial.
6/1/2010............................  12-month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 30338-30363
                                       Petition to List the White-   Petition Finding, Not
                                       tailed Prairie Dog as         warranted.
                                       Endangered or Threatened.
6/9/2010............................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 32728-32734
                                       To List van Rossem's Gull-    Petition Finding,
                                       billed Tern as Endangered     Substantial.
                                       or Threatened.
6/16/2010...........................  90-Day Finding on Five        Notice of 90-day           75 FR 34077-34088
                                       Petitions to List Seven       Petition Finding,
                                       Species of Hawaiian Yellow-   Substantial.
                                       faced Bees as Endangered.
6/22/2010...........................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 35398-35424
                                       Petition to List the Least    Petition Finding,
                                       Chub as Threatened or         Warranted but
                                       Endangered.                   precluded.
6/23/2010...........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 35746-35751
                                       to List the Honduran          Petition Finding,
                                       Emerald Hummingbird as        Substantial.
                                       Endangered.
6/23/2010...........................  Listing Ipomopsis polyantha   Proposed Listing,          75 FR 35721-35746
                                       (Pagosa Skyrocket) as         Endangered; Proposed
                                       Endangered Throughout Its     Listing, Threatened.
                                       Range, and Listing
                                       Penstemon debilis
                                       (Parachute Beardtongue) and
                                       Phacelia submutica (DeBeque
                                       Phacelia) as Threatened
                                       Throughout Their Range.
6/24/2010...........................  Listing the Flying Earwig     Final Listing,             75 FR 35990-36012
                                       Hawaiian Damselfly and        Endangered.
                                       Pacific Hawaiian Damselfly
                                       As Endangered Throughout
                                       Their Ranges.
6/24/2010...........................  Listing the Cumberland        Proposed Listing,          75 FR 36035-36057
                                       Darter, Rush Darter,          Endangered.
                                       Yellowcheek Darter, Chucky
                                       Madtom, and Laurel Dace as
                                       Endangered Throughout Their
                                       Ranges.
6/29/2010...........................  Listing the Mountain Plover   Reinstatement of           75 FR 37353-37358
                                       as Threatened.                Proposed Listing,
                                                                     Threatened.
7/20/2010...........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 42033-42040
                                       to List Pinus albicaulis      Petition Finding,
                                       (Whitebark Pine) as           Substantial.
                                       Endangered or Threatened
                                       with Critical Habitat.
7/20/2010...........................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 42040-42054
                                       Petition to List the          Petition Finding, Not
                                       Amargosa Toad as Threatened   warranted.
                                       or Endangered.
7/20/2010...........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 42059-42066
                                       to List the Giant Palouse     Petition Finding,
                                       Earthworm (Driloleirus        Substantial.
                                       americanus) as Threatened
                                       or Endangered.
7/27/2010...........................  Determination on Listing the  Final Listing,             75 FR 43844-43853
                                       Black-Breasted Puffleg as     Endangered.
                                       Endangered Throughout its
                                       Range; Final Rule.
7/27/2010...........................  Final Rule to List the        Final Listing,             75 FR 43853-43864
                                       Medium Tree-Finch             Endangered.
                                       (Camarhynchus pauper) as
                                       Endangered Throughout Its
                                       Range.
8/3/2010............................  Determination of Threatened   Final Listing,             75 FR 45497-45527
                                       Status for Five Penguin       Threatened.
                                       Species.
8/4/2010............................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 46894-46898
                                       To List the Mexican Gray      Petition Finding,
                                       Wolf as an Endangered         Substantial.
                                       Subspecies With Critical
                                       Habitat.
8/10/2010...........................  90[dash]Day Finding on a      Notice of 90-day           75 FR 48294-48298
                                       Petition to List              Petition Finding,
                                       Arctostaphylos franciscana    Substantial.
                                       as Endangered with Critical
                                       Habitat.
8/17/2010...........................  Listing Three Foreign Bird    Final Listing,             75 FR 50813-50842
                                       Species from Latin America    Endangered.
                                       and the Caribbean as
                                       Endangered Throughout Their
                                       Range.
8/17/2010...........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 50739-50742
                                       to List Brian Head            Petition Finding, Not
                                       Mountainsnail as Endangered   substantial.
                                       or Threatened with Critical
                                       Habitat.
8/24/2010...........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 51969-51974
                                       to List the Oklahoma Grass    Petition Finding,
                                       Pink Orchid as Endangered     Substantial.
                                       or Threatened.
9/1/2010............................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 53615-53629
                                       Petition to List the White-   Petition Finding, Not
                                       Sided Jackrabbit as           warranted.
                                       Threatened or Endangered.
9/8/2010............................  Proposed Rule To List the     Proposed Listing,          75 FR 54561-54579
                                       Ozark Hellbender Salamander   Endangered.
                                       as Endangered.

[[Page 78059]]

 
9/8/2010............................  Revised 12-Month Finding to   Notice of 12-month         75 FR 54707-54753
                                       List the Upper Missouri       Petition Finding,
                                       River Distinct Population     Warranted but
                                       Segment of Arctic Grayling    precluded.
                                       as Endangered or Threatened.
9/9/2010............................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 54822-54845
                                       Petition to List the Jemez    Petition Finding,
                                       Mountains Salamander          Warranted but
                                       (Plethodon neomexicanus) as   precluded.
                                       Endangered or Threatened
                                       with Critical Habitat.
9/15/2010...........................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 56028-56050
                                       Petition to List Sprague's    Petition Finding,
                                       Pipit as Endangered or        Warranted but
                                       Threatened Throughout Its     precluded.
                                       Range.
9/22/2010...........................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 57720-57734
                                       Petition to List Agave        Petition Finding,
                                       eggersiana (no common name)   Warranted but
                                       as Endangered.                precluded.
9/28/2010...........................  Determination of Endangered   Final Listing,             75 FR 59645-59656
                                       Status for the African        Endangered.
                                       Penguin.
9/28/2010...........................  Determination for the         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 59803-59863
                                       Gunnison Sage[dash]grouse     Petition Finding,
                                       as a Threatened or            Warranted but
                                       Endangered Species.           precluded.
9/30/2010...........................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 60515-60561
                                       Petition to List the Pygmy    Petition Finding, Not
                                       Rabbit as Endangered or       warranted.
                                       Threatened.
10/6/2010...........................  Endangered Status for the     Proposed Listing,          75 FR 61664-61690
                                       Altamaha Spinymussel and      Endangered.
                                       Designation of Critical
                                       Habitat.
10/7/2010...........................  12-month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 62070-62095
                                       Petition to list the          Petition Finding, Not
                                       Sacramento Splittail as       warranted.
                                       Endangered or Threatened.
10/28/2010..........................  Endangered Status and         Proposed Listing           75 FR 66481-66552
                                       Designation of Critical       Endangered (uplisting).
                                       Habitat for Spikedace and
                                       Loach Minnow.
11/2/2010...........................  90-Day Finding on a Petition  Notice of 90-day           75 FR 67341-67343
                                       to List the Bay Springs       Petition Finding, Not
                                       Salamander as Endangered.     substantial.
11/2/2010...........................  Determination of Endangered   Final Listing,             75 FR 67511-67550
                                       Status for the Georgia        Endangered.
                                       Pigtoe Mussel, Interrupted
                                       Rocksnail, and Rough
                                       Hornsnail and Designation
                                       of Critical Habitat.
11/2/2010...........................  Listing the Rayed Bean and    Proposed Listing,          75 FR 67551-67583
                                       Snuffbox as Endangered.       Endangered.
11/4/2010...........................  12-Month Finding on a         Notice of 12-month         75 FR 67925-67944
                                       Petition to List Cirsium      Petition Finding,
                                       wrightii (Wright's Marsh      Warranted but
                                       Thistle) as Endangered or     precluded.
                                       Threatened.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Our expeditious progress also includes work on listing actions that 
we funded in FY 2010 and FY 2011 but have not yet been completed to 
date. These actions are listed below. Actions in the top section of the 
table are being conducted under a deadline set by a court. Actions in 
the middle section of the table are being conducted to meet statutory 
timelines, that is, timelines required under the Act. Actions in the 
bottom section of the table are high-priority listing actions. These 
actions include work primarily on species with an LPN of 2, and, as 
discussed above, selection of these species is partially based on 
available staff resources, and when appropriate, include species with a 
lower priority if they overlap geographically or have the same threats 
as the species with the high priority. Including these species together 
in the same proposed rule results in considerable savings in time and 
funding, as compared to preparing separate proposed rules for each of 
them in the future.

  Table 4--Actions Funded in FY 2010 and FY 2011 But Not Yet Completed
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Species                               Action
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Actions Subject to Court
 Order/Settlement Agreement:
    6 Birds from Eurasia.....  Final listing determination.
    Flat-tailed horned lizard  Final listing determination.
    Mountain plover \4\......  Final listing determination.
    6 Birds from Peru........  Proposed listing determination.
    Sacramento splittail.....  12-month petition finding.
    Pacific walrus...........  12-month petition finding.
    Wolverine................  12-month petition finding.
    Solanum conocarpum.......  12-month petition finding.
    Desert tortoise--Sonoran   12-month petition finding.
     population.
    Thorne's Hairstreak        12-month petition finding.
     butterfly \3\.
    Hermes copper butterfly    12-month petition finding.
     \3\.
    Utah prairie dog           90-day petition finding.
     (uplisting).
Actions with Statutory
 Deadlines:
    Casey's june beetle......  Final listing determination.
    Georgia pigtoe,            Final listing determination.
     interrupted rocksnail,
     and rough hornsnail.
    7 Bird species from        Final listing determination.
     Brazil.
    Southern rockhopper        Final listing determination.
     penguin--Campbell
     Plateau population.
    5 Bird species from        Final listing determination.
     Colombia and Ecuador.
    Queen Charlotte goshawk..  Final listing determination.
    5 species southeast fish   Final listing determination.
     (Cumberland darter, rush
     darter, yellowcheek
     darter, chucky madtom,
     and laurel dace).
    Salmon crested cockatoo..  Proposed listing determination.

[[Page 78060]]

 
    CA golden trout..........  12-month petition finding.
    Black-footed albatross...  12-month petition finding.
    Mount Charleston blue      12-month petition finding.
     butterfly.
    Mojave fringe-toed lizard  12-month petition finding.
     \1\.
    Kokanee--Lake Sammamish    12-month petition finding.
     population \1\.
    Cactus ferruginous pygmy-  12-month petition finding.
     owl \1\.
    Northern leopard frog....  12-month petition finding.
    Tehachapi slender          12-month petition finding.
     salamander.
    Coqui Llanero............  12-month petition finding.
    Dusky tree vole..........  12-month petition finding.
    3 MT invertebrates (mist   12-month petition finding.
     forestfly (Lednia
     tumana), Oreohelix sp.3,
     Oreohelix sp. 31) from
     206 species petition.
    5 UT plants (Astragalus    12-month petition finding.
     hamiltonii, Eriogonum
     soredium, Lepidium
     ostleri, Penstemon
     flowersii, Trifolium
     friscanum) from 206
     species petition.
    2 CO plants (Astragalus    12-month petition finding.
     microcymbus, Astragalus
     schmolliae) from 206
     species petition.
    5 WY plants (Abronia       12-month petition finding.
     ammophila, Agrostis
     rossiae, Astragalus
     proimanthus, Boechere
     (Arabis) pusilla,
     Penstemon gibbensii)
     from 206 species
     petition.
    Leatherside chub (from     12-month petition finding.
     206 species petition).
    Frigid ambersnail (from    12-month petition finding.
     206 species petition).
    Gopher tortoise--eastern   12-month petition finding.
     population.
    Wrights marsh thistle....  12-month petition finding.
    67 of 475 southwest        12-month petition finding.
     species.
    Grand Canyon scorpion      12-month petition finding.
     (from 475 species
     petition).
    Anacroneuria wipukupa (a   12-month petition finding.
     stonefly from 475
     species petition).
    Rattlesnake-master borer   12-month petition finding.
     moth (from 475 species
     petition).
    3 Texas moths (Ursia       12-month petition finding.
     furtiva, Sphingicampa
     blanchardi, Agapema
     galbina) (from 475
     species petition).
    2 Texas shiners            12-month petition finding.
     (Cyprinella sp.,
     Cyprinella lepida) (from
     475 species petition).
    3 South Arizona plants     12-month petition finding.
     (Erigeron piscaticus,
     Astragalus hypoxylus,
     Amoreuxia gonzalezii)
     (from 475 species
     petition).
    5 Central Texas mussel     12-month petition finding.
     species (3 from 475
     species petition).
    14 parrots (foreign        12-month petition finding.
     species).
    Berry Cave salamander \1\  12-month petition finding.
    Striped Newt \1\.........  12-month petition finding.
    Fisher--Northern Rocky     12-month petition finding.
     Mountain Range \1\.
    Mohave Ground Squirrel     12-month petition finding.
     \1\.
    Puerto Rico Harlequin      12-month petition finding.
     Butterfly.
    Western gull-billed tern.  12-month petition finding.
    Ozark chinquapin           12-month petition finding.
     (Castanea pumila var.
     ozarkensis).
    HI yellow-faced bees.....  12-month petition finding.
    Giant Palouse earthworm..  12-month petition finding.
    Whitebark pine...........  12-month petition finding.
    OK grass pink (Calopogon   12-month petition finding.
     oklahomensis) \1\.
    Southeastern pop snowy     90-day petition finding.
     plover & wintering pop.
     of piping plover \1\.
    Eagle Lake trout \1\.....  90-day petition finding.
    Smooth-billed ani \1\....  90-day petition finding.
    Bay Springs salamander     90-day petition finding.
     \1\.
    32 species of snails and   90-day petition finding.
     slugs \1\.
    42 snail species (Nevada   90-day petition finding.
     & Utah).
    Red knot roselaari         90-day petition finding.
     subspecies.
    Peary caribou............  90-day petition finding.
    Plains bison.............  90-day petition finding.
    Spring Mountains           90-day petition finding.
     checkerspot butterfly.
    Spring pygmy sunfish.....  90-day petition finding.
    Bay skipper..............  90-day petition finding.
    Unsilvered fritillary....  90-day petition finding.
    Texas kangaroo rat.......  90-day petition finding.
    Spot-tailed earless        90-day petition finding.
     lizard.
    Eastern small-footed bat.  90-day petition finding.
    Northern long-eared bat..  90-day petition finding.
    Prairie chub.............  90-day petition finding.
    10 species of Great Basin  90-day petition finding.
     butterfly.
    6 sand dune (scarab)       90-day petition finding.
     beetles.
    Golden-winged warbler....  90-day petition finding.
    Sand-verbena moth........  90-day petition finding.
    404 Southeast species....  90-day petition finding.
    Franklin's bumble bee \4\  90-day petition finding.
    2 Idaho snowflies          90-day petition finding.
     (straight snowfly &
     Idaho snowfly) \4\.
    American eel \4\.........  90-day petition finding.
    Gila monster (Utah         90-day petition finding.
     population) \4\.
    Arapahoe snowfly \4\.....  90-day petition finding.
    Leona's little blue \4\..  90-day petition finding.
    Aztec gilia \5\..........  90-day petition finding.

[[Page 78061]]

 
    White-tailed ptarmigan     90-day petition finding.
     \5\.
    San Bernardino flying      90-day petition finding.
     squirrel \5\.
    Bicknell's thrush \5\....  90-day petition finding.
    Coleman's coral-root       90-day petition finding.
     (Hexalectris colemanii)
     \5\.
    Sonoran talussnail \5\...  90-day petition finding.
    2 AZ Sky Island plants     90-day petition finding.
     (Graptopetalum bartrami
     & Pectis imberbis) \5\.
    I'iwi \5\................  90-day petition finding.
High-Priority Listing Actions
 \3\:
    19 Oahu candidate species  Proposed listing.
     \2\ (16 plants, 3
     damselflies) (15 with
     LPN = 2, 3 with LPN = 3,
     1 with LPN = 9).
    19 Maui-Nui candidate      Proposed listing.
     species \2\ (16 plants,
     3 tree snails) (14 with
     LPN = 2, 2 with LPN = 3,
     3 with LPN = 8).
    Dune sagebrush lizard      Proposed listing.
     (formerly Sand dune
     lizard) \3\ (LPN = 2).
    2 Arizona springsnails     Proposed listing.
     \2\ (Pyrgulopsis
     bernadina (LPN = 2),
     Pyrgulopsis trivialis
     (LPN = 2)).
    New Mexico springsnail     Proposed listing.
     \2\ (Pyrgulopsis
     chupaderae (LPN = 2).
    2 mussels \2\ (rayed bean  Proposed listing.
     (LPN = 2), snuffbox No
     LPN).
    2 mussels \2\ (sheepnose   Proposed listing.
     (LPN = 2), spectaclecase
     (LPN = 4)).
    Altamaha spinymussel \2\   Proposed listing.
     (LPN = 2).
    8 southeast mussels        Proposed listing.
     (southern kidneyshell
     (LPN = 2), round
     ebonyshell (LPN = 2),
     Alabama pearlshell (LPN
     = 2), southern sandshell
     (LPN = 5), fuzzy pigtoe
     (LPN = 5), Choctaw bean
     (LPN = 5), narrow pigtoe
     (LPN = 5), and tapered
     pigtoe (LPN = 11)).
    Umtanum buckwheat (LPN =   Proposed listing.
     2) \4\.
    Grotto sculpin (LPN = 2)   Proposed listing.
     \4\.
    2 Arkansas mussels         Proposed listing.
     (Neosho mucket (LPN = 2)
     & Rabbitsfoot (LPN = 9))
     \4\.
    Diamond darter (LPN = 2)   Proposed listing.
     \4\.
    Gunnison sage-grouse (LPN  Proposed listing.
     = 2) \4\.
    Miami blue (LPN = 3) \3\.  Proposed listing.
    4 Texas salamanders        Proposed listing.
     (Austin blind salamander
     (LPN = 2), Salado
     salamander (LPN = 2),
     Georgetown salamander
     (LPN = 8), Jollyville
     Plateau (LPN = 8)) \3\.
    5 SW aquatics (Gonzales    Proposed listing.
     Spring Snail (LPN = 2),
     Diamond Y springsnail
     (LPN = 2), Phantom
     springsnail (LPN = 2),
     Phantom Cave snail (LPN
     = 2), Diminutive
     amphipod (LPN = 2)) \3\.
    2 Texas plants (Texas      Proposed listing.
     golden gladecress
     (Leavenworthia texana)
     (LPN = 2), Neches River
     rose-mallow (Hibiscus
     dasycalyx) (LPN = 2))
     \3\.
    FL bonneted bat (LPN = 2)  Proposed listing.
     \3\.
    Kittlitz's murrelet (LPN   Proposed listing.
     = 2) \5\.
    Umtanum buckwheat (LPN =   Proposed listing.
     2) \3\.
    21 Big Island (HI)         Proposed listing.
     species \5\ (includes 8
     candidate species--5
     plants & 3 animals; 4
     with LPN = 2, 1 with LPN
     = 3, 1 with LPN = 4, 2
     with LPN = 8).
    Oregon spotted frog (LPN   Proposed listing.
     = 2) \5\.
    2 TN River mussels         Proposed listing.
     (fluted kidneyshell (LPN
     = 2), slabside
     pearlymussel (LPN = 2)
     \5\.
    Jemez Mountain salamander  Proposed listing.
     (LPN = 2) \5\.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Funds for listing actions for these species were provided in
  previous FYs.
\2\ Although funds for these high-priority listing actions were provided
  in FY 2008 or 2009, due to the complexity of these actions and
  competing priorities, these actions are still being developed.
\3\ Partially funded with FY 2010 funds and FY 2011 funds.
\4\ Funded with FY 2010 funds.
\5\ Funded with FY 2011 funds.

    We have endeavored to make our listing actions as efficient and 
timely as possible, given the requirements of the relevant law and 
regulations, and constraints relating to workload and personnel. We are 
continually considering ways to streamline processes or achieve 
economies of scale, such as by batching related actions together. Given 
our limited budget for implementing section 4 of the Act, these actions 
described above collectively constitute expeditious progress.
    The North American wolverine in the contiguous United States will 
be added to the list of candidate species upon publication of this 12-
month finding. We will continue to evaluate this species as new 
information becomes available. Continuing review will determine if a 
change in status is warranted, including the need to make prompt use of 
emergency listing procedures.
    We intend that any proposed listing determination for the North 
American wolverine in the contiguous United States will be as accurate 
as possible. Therefore, we will continue to accept additional 
information and comments from all concerned governmental agencies, the 
scientific community, industry, or any other interested party 
concerning this finding.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited is available upon request 
from the Supervisor at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana 
Field Office (see ADDRESSES).

Author

    The primary authors of this notice are the staff members of the 
Montana Field Office (see ADDRESSES).

Authority

    The authority for this action is section 4 of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: November 19, 2010.
Paul R. Schmidt,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2010-30573 Filed 12-13-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P