BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal wildlife officials are withdrawing proposed protections for the snow-loving wolverine — a reversal that highlights lingering uncertainties over what a warming climate means for some temperature-sensitive species.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said that while climate change is a reality, predictions about its localized impacts remain "ambiguous."
Ashe says that makes it impossible to determine whether wolverines are in danger of extinction.
The Associated Press obtained the decision ahead of Tuesday's formal announcement.
Wolverines, or "mountain devils," need deep snows to den. Federal officials last year said future temperature increases warranted increased protections for the animals.
As scientists grapple with limits on computer climate models, the wolverine finding carries potential ramifications for other species— from Alaska's bearded seals to dozens of species of coral.