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Two MT Critters Make “Endangered Top Ten”

December 22, 2008

Helena, MT – Two Montana animal species have made the top ten list of those most in-need of protection by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), according to a new Endangered Species Coalition report. The Montana fluvial Arctic grayling is listed since the river-dwelling fish can only be found in the Upper Big Hole River, while the wolverine has also been listed.

Derek Goldman, the Coalition's Northern Rockies field representative, explains the wolverine's listing is due to threatened spring snow pack, which the animal needs to raise its young.

"With the changing climate, one of the things we're seeing is an earlier melt-off of that spring snow pack. It's disappearing, in some cases, before the kits are ready to leave the den."

Female wolverines build spring snow caves in which to keep the kits warm and away from predators.

The Arctic grayling population made the list because the fish population has been decimated as streams have dried up because of dams, irrigation, and prolonged drought, according to Goldman.

The report also criticizes the Bush administration's record on the ESA.

"He's the only president in the history of the Endangered Species Act to have not protected a single species except in response to petitions, or lawsuits filed by scientists and citizens' groups."

Both the grayling and wolverine were denied ESA status in 2007, despite government research calling for them to be listed. There are many critics of the Endangered Species Act from both parties, who argue listing has been overused, that it doesn't work very well to recover species, it's expensive, and it can impede on private property rights.

Goldman argues the Act has been successful, with the American bald eagle the best example of how a well-funded recovery program can work.

The report, entitled, Without a Net: Top Ten Wildlife, Fish and Plants in Need of Endangered Species Act Protection, also includes the Gunnison sage-grouse, great white shark and the wood turtle. The complete report is available at

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT