Wolverines seem to be everywhere these days with the University of Michigan Wolverines making it to the NCAA basketball finals and the new X-men movie, The Wolverine, coming out this summer. But in the wild, real wolverines are harder to find, and with fewer than 300 left in the US, they're in danger of disappearing from our landscape forever.
As an environmental educator, I help kids connect animals they know through pop culture and team mascots to what those animals are really like in nature. Like the Wolverine character and the Michigan basketball team, wolverines are fierce and fearless animals. As scavengers and predators, they're an important part of the ecosystem. But they can't protect themselves against climate change. The world's changing temperatures mean that by the end of this century, wolverines in the U.S. will lose two-thirds the snow-covered habitat they need to raise their young.
The good news is that wolverines are being considered right now for the endangered species list. In fact, they're one of 97 backlogged species that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required by a court order to make a decision on this year. Endangered species listing will protect wolverines from threats like trapping and will give them a chance to move into habitats where they have a chance at survival.
I worry that one day I'll have to tell students that real wolverines no longer exist in the wild. This is our chance to make sure that doesn't happen. We have until May 6th, 2013 to submit a comment letting USFWS know that real wolverines are in trouble and need endangered species list protections.