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State to fight wolverine protection

May 7, 2013 - The Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. -- State officials in the Northern Rockies on Monday lined up against a federal proposal to give new protections to the carnivorous wolverine, as climate change threatens to melt the species' snowy mountain strongholds.

A pending U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal would declare the rare, elusive animal a threatened species across the Lower 48 states.

That could end trapping for the ferocious member of the weasel family sometimes called the "mountain devil."

And it would pave the way for Colorado to reintroduce wolverines in portions of the southern Rocky Mountains as part of a strategy to bolster their numbers ahead of future declines.

But Montana, Idaho and Wyoming officials insist federal protections aren't necessary for the estimated 250-300 wolverines that live across the West. Despite their uncertain future prospects, state officials said wolverines are doing well now and don't need federal intervention.

"There is no evidence suggesting that wolverines will not adapt sufficiently to diminished late spring snow pack (assuming there is any) to maintain viability," Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead wrote in a Monday letter to federal officials.

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