Citing shrinking mountain snowpacks as a result of climate change, federal wildlife officials are proposing to list wolverines as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The animal, which resembles a small bear with a bushy tail, needs deep mountain snow to reproduce. Females give birth from mid-February through March in dens they excavate in alpine snow, typically using them until late April or early May.
Global warming, which will diminish snowfall and cause earlier spring melt, could reduce wolverine habitat in the lower 48 states by 31% over the next three decades and by 63% over the next 75 years, according to the proposed listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The agency estimates there are 250 to 300 wolverines in the contiguous United States, with the bulk of them living in the northern Rocky Mountains. There is also a small population in the North Cascades range in the Pacific Northwest, one wolverine recorded in the Sierra Nevada in California and one in the southern Rocky Mountains.