Space for wolverines

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Sat Oct 3 00:48:20 EST 1998

The following article appeared in The Oregonian for Oct. 2, 1998 on pC4

Carving out space for wolverines

A proposed timber sale and other wilderness plans spark renewed concern

The Associated Press

	MEDFORD -- Environmentalists want to protect wolverines by expanding
a mountain refuge for the elusive predator to include land slated for logging
and resort development in the Cascade range.	     The wolverine, a
threatened species in Orgon since 1973, was proposed for listing under the
federal Endangered Species Act in 1994.     The U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service found insufficient grounds for a listing, but federal and state
biologists have been scrambling ever since to identify local populations of
wolverines.	 “We’re trying to get a little bit ahead of the curve on it
and not wait for it to be listed,” said Elaine Rybak, a U.S. Forest Service
biologist studying threatened and endangered species.	 The latest skirmish
occurred this week when the Oregon Natural Resources Council and 22 other
conservation groups for the third time appealed a proposed 2,110-acre timber
sale in the Winema National Forest. The sale would produce 13.8 million board
feet.  But the real battle could begin next month when the environmental
review is released on nearby Pelican Butte, a $17 million ski resort planned
for an 8,036- foot mountain 25 miles northwest of Klamath Falls.	 “In
the Winema forest plan, they never once mention the word ‘wolverine,’” said
Wendell Wood of the Oregon Natural Resources Council. “I believe the agency
has not wanted to confront the problem. This is a species that could get in
the way of cutting the last remaining roadless areas.”	About 300,000 acres
of wolverine habitat are protected in a wilderness core made up of the Sky
Lakes Winderness and Crater Lake National Park. The council says 30,000 acres
surrounding that area also should be protected.    Aerial surveys have been
done during two winters to find tracks left by female wolverines, which nest
in dens on northern exposures above the timberline.	  Earlier this year,
surveyors identified possible wolverine tracks on Mount McLoughlin, five
miles southwest of Pelican Butte, and on Devil’s Peak, five miles north of
Pelican Butte.	 “I think they’re out there, but I think they’re out there in
very low numbers,” said Simon Wray, and Oregon Department of Fish and
Wildlife biologist.  Rob Shull, Klamath district ranger, denied that the
Winema National Forest has ignored wolverines in its planning. “Wolverines
have been suspected, if not confirmed, on the Winema National Forest for a
long time,” he said.  But Shull acknowledged that the development of a big
ski resort with four chairlifts and 2,800 skiers a day could be a different
story.	       “Pelican Butte will probably eliminate a chunk of habitat from
the wolverine’s use, but what does that mean?” he said. “We don’t know.”     
   Worldwide, only six research project have been conducted on the wolverine,
including one by Jeff Copeland, Idaho Fish and Game Department biologist.   
“In the U.S., they don’t eat your cows, they don’t tip over your garbage
cans, we don’t trap ‘em or shoot ‘em, so we just don’t care,” Copeland said.

This article was posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler

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