They probably think differently in East Lansing and Columbus, Ohio, but wolverines aren’t endangered. They’re not even threatened.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service surprised everyone Tuesday when it withdrew its proposal to list the wolverine as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Weirdly, the decision was a victory both for science and for flat-earth anti-science.
Fish and Wildlife proposed to list the wolverine as threatened in the lower 48 states because its scientists figured the animal’s habitat would be damaged or destroyed by global warming. Specifically, it said that global climate change would lead to less snow in the winter, which would negatively affect the survival of the largest, angriest members of the weasel family.
It didn’t claim that wolverine numbers are dropping, or that too many are trapped or killed. The wolverine population may be as big as it has ever been.
By now, you’ve been through a polar vortex or two. Global warming doesn’t mean beach weather in January. It means the weather is screwed up so badly that the Port Huron area gets twice as much snow as normal and it hangs around until May.
What it means for where wolverines live is less clear.
Wolverines don’t actually occupy much of the continental United States. They’re found in the Mountain West, Alaska and Canada.
For the record, the only wolverines in Michigan wear maize and blue. The four-legged variety doesn’t live in Michigan and never did. There is no historic or prehistoric evidence of a wolverine in the Wolverine State. Nobody’s ever turned up a wolverine bone.
There is still no explanation for the lone specimen found in 2004 in the Thumb.
“In this case, based on all the information available, we simply do not know enough about the ecology of the wolverine and when or how it will be affected by a changing climate to conclude at this time that it is likely to be in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future,” Dan Ashe, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, said.
In other words, the agency was guessing about the snow.
It wasn’t wrong about climate change. It just didn’t have any evidence to back up its proposal.
“Climate change is a reality, the consequences of which the Service deals with on a daily basis. While impacts to many species are clear and measurable, for others the consequences of a warming planet are less certain,” Ashe said. “This is particularly true in the Mountain West, where differences in elevation and topography make fine-scale prediction of climate impacts ambiguous.”
From new killers such as the epizootic hemorrhagic disease that killed so many Michigan deer last year to ticks and mosquitoes that just won’t quit, we’ve seen the consequences of climate change on wildlife.
The flat-earthers are celebrating the decision because they think it’s the federal government admitting that climate change isn’t real.
They’re probably the same people who believe the Michigan Wolverines football team has a chance in the Big 10.