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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list wolverine as a threatened species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will list the North American wolverine as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The decision could eventually pave the way for the animals to return to Arizona.

Wolverines have been driven from most of their historic range by trapping and poison, and face additional threats from climate change.

Conservationists argue they should be protected, and over the last couple of decades filed a series of lawsuits against Fish and Wildlife.

The agency has agreed to list them as threatened, which could jumpstart efforts to reintroduce them to Colorado.

"The key new horizon right now is Colorado because it’s got so much high elevation habitat that’s snowy, which is what this species needs," said Tim Preso, an attorney with the nonprofit Earthjustice. "And there’s an active conversation going on there right now about a wolverine reintroduction so it’s not something that’s just pie in the sky," Preso said.

He says the animals have been known to travel long distances to establish new territory.

And although he spent more than two decades fighting the agency in court, he said he welcomes its decision to list the animals.

"They do great things for imperiled wildlife and so we’re excited about this new direction that offers the hope that they’ll apply some of that expertise and their impressive abilities on behalf of the wolverine."

Ron Dungan was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.