Governance in species restoration




It is beyond exasperating to see how other countries go about restoration of species, such as the wolf and wolverine in the state of Colorado, and the transboundary co-operation on conservation of wolverine in Fennoscandia, and compare that with what happens in Britain. Our arm’s length, non-departmental statutory nature agencies consistently fob this off onto the voluntary sector, which has to rely on soft money for funding (grants from trusts, lottery) rather state or government allocated funding. These nature agencies lack public accountability and should be merged with departments so that the minister can’t shrug off responsibility to them, which in turn they don’t take.

Five wolves, three males and two females, were released onto public land in Grand County, Colorado, last December, as a first phase to restore their presence in the state (1,2). I have been watching this voter-approved measure for some years, noting a year ago that a draft Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan was awaiting amendment and approval by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (3). This approval was given in May last year (4) and a few months later a source population of gray wolves for initial reintroduction efforts was secured from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (5). In addition, the US Fish and Wildlife Service of the US Department of the Interior, announced the availability of the final Environmental Impact Statement and draft record of decision to establish an experimental population of gray wolves in Colorado under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act (6,7). This designation as an experimental population was a requirement in Chapter 5 of the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan (see approved Plan (8)).

As I explained, although not wholly convinced by it, this would allow relaxation of the prohibited acts under the Endangered Species Act to permit, under limited conditions, harassing as well as lethal control in the removal of problem wolves (3). The Commission believed these operations gave it a management flexibility that was a critical component to the success of the Plan, the assumption being that it would increase social tolerance for the presence of wolves by easing the fears in reintroduction areas that wolves would damage wild game herds and kill livestock. Another assumption, addressed in the Plan, would be that it would reduce the illegal killing of wolves if it was known that there were state measures in place for lethal removal (8). However, the Plan conceded that research had shown that lethal control measures in the short-term were ineffective for increasing tolerance and may even increase illegal killing. While the Plan does follow a phased approach whereby the threatened conservation status of gray wolves under Colorado state law is linked with numerical and temporal population targets, I see no evidence of when the designation as an experimental population will be lifted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which it surely must at some point.

A temporary restraining order

With that designation of an experimental population in place, everything seemed on track for the required deadline of 31 December 2023 for the first scheduled release. However, within days of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s intention to capture and transport up to 10 wolves from Oregon, Gunnison County Stockgrowers’ Association and Colorado Cattlemen’s Association filed a lawsuit in Federal court that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services had failed to adequately review the effects of reintroducing up to 50 wolves over the next several years, and requested a temporary restraining order to halt the impending release (9,10). Fortunately, Federal Judge Regina Rodriguez denied the request for a temporary delay after listening to attorneys for the U.S. government stating that the requirements for environmental reviews had been met, that any future harms would not be irreparable - which is the standard required for the temporary injunction that was sought (11). The attorneys also pointed to a state compensation program that would pay owners if their livestock were killed by wolves. Rodriguez said that ranchers’ concerns didn’t outweigh the public interest in meeting the will of the people of Colorado, who had voted for wolf reintroduction in a 2020 ballot initiative.

Within a week of the first release, a further five wolves, one male and four females, were trapped in Oregon and released with greater circumspection on the timing and locations to help protect the safety and security of the wolves, albeit that it was said to have been in Summit and Grand Counties in Colorado (12). This completed the agreement with Oregon to provide 10 wolves, as it also did the program of releases for that season of December 2023 to March 2024. For the next capture and release season (from December 2024 to March 2025) Colorado Parks and Wildlife secured in January a source population of 15 gray wolves to be captured on the tribal lands of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in northern Washington state (13).

Before release, each of the 10 wolves had been fitted with a Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite collar so that they could be tracked (1, 12). Colorado Parks and Wildlife had previously in February last year captured and collared two male wolves that were reported to be in the North Park area near Walden in Jackson County, and which had voluntarily found their way into Colorado (14). It was an early attempt at using the movements of these wolves to establish patterns of activity in the state. Data from the collars of these two wolves along with that of the other 10 during the period from the 18 December 2023 to the 22 January 2024 was mapped to show their presence by watershed as a means to inform the public, recreationists and livestock producers about where the wolves had been, and with the promise that the map would be updated on a monthly basis (15). It’s worth comparing this first activity map with the second (23 January 23, 2024- 27 February 2024 (16)) and the third (28 February 2024 – 25 March 2024 (17) to see the inexorable growth in the area that the wolves have explored.

Inevitably, only a few days ago, Colorado Parks and Wildlife received a report of a possible wolf attack after a landowner in Grand County contacted officers to report a dead calf (18). A field investigation found multiple tooth rake marks on the calf's hindquarters and neck, and haemorrhaging under the hide, wounds consistent with wolf attack. Wolf tracks were also found nearby. Under the Wolf Restoration and Management Plan, the livestock producer will be eligible for fair market value compensation if a claim is submitted. Colorado Parks and Wildlife will also provide the livestock producer with conflict minimization materials under its Gray Wolf Compensation and Conflict Minimization Program. That it has only been this one calf after three months belies the dire warnings and widespread opposition from farmers and ranchers to the restoration plan (19).

The successful first releases of wolves in Colorado were preceded only by a few days by the Center for Biological Diversity securing an agreement in court from the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must within two years draft a new recovery plan for gray wolves listed under the Endangered Species Act (20). The Center is a nonprofit membership organization in America known for its work in protecting endangered species through legal action. It had made the point that there was no plan that comprehensively addressed gray wolf recovery nationwide – “Many areas where wolves currently live and breed — and where their reestablishment is in its infancy, such as California and Colorado — have no plan to guide their recovery”. I am pleased to see that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has subsequently acknowledged the concern about nationwide recovery for gray wolves, and committed to undertake a process to develop a first-ever nationwide gray wolf recovery plan by 12 December 2025 (21)

Bipartisan leadership is not very common in wildlife conservation

Having previously restored lynx 25 years ago (22,23) and in the process of restoring wolves, Colorado is now looking to restore the wolverine (Gulo gulo) a carnivore extirpated from the state in the 1900s due to unregulated harvest for fur, and the broad-scale poisoning of carnivores (24). The last confirmed record of a wolverine in the state was from 1919, survey efforts between 1979-1996 yielded no sightings, but a collared male wolverine wandered in from Wyoming in 2009, spent two years in the high mountains of Colorado before slipping his collar and eventually being found to have been shot dead by a farmhand in North Dakota in 2016 (25,26). In early March, Colorado Parks and Wildlife stated that it had joined together with a bipartisan group of state legislators to announce a bill for the Colorado General Assembly that would give the agency the authority to reintroduce the North American wolverine to Colorado (24). Biologists from Colorado Parks and Wildlife estimated that the state had enough suitable terrain of high snowy mountains, the largest unoccupied territory of this type in the lower 48 states, to support approximately 100-180 animals at full carrying capacity. This would be a substantial increase on the extant population in America, which was estimated to be fewer than 400, wolverines having voluntarily re-established a presence in Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, by crossing the border from Canada. Colorado’s mountains, which are at high elevation, are predicted to retain their snowpack as well, if not better than, the lower-elevation mountains in these Pacific Northwest states, a key factor if a warming climate shrinks the snowpack that wolverines need for their dens.

The bill was introduced in the State Senate on 4 March (27) and if passed it authorises the division of parks and wildlife to reintroduce the North American wolverine to Colorado (27, 28). There are two main stipulations: as long as the North American wolverine remains on the list of threatened or endangered species, the division shall not reintroduce the North American wolverine in the state until a final rule designating the North American wolverine in Colorado as a nonessential experimental population; and the Parks and Wildlife Commission must adopt rules for the compensation of owners of livestock for losses caused by the North American wolverine. The bill authorizes the Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife to use $750,000 from the Species Conservation Trust Fund for the reintroduction effort, the funds available in the state fiscal year 2024-25, and remaining available for authorized purposes until the money is fully expended.

The bipartisan sponsorship of the bill augurs well for the likelihood of it succeeding through the state legislature (29). Megan Mueller, a Conservation Biologist with Rocky Mountain Wild, observed that bipartisan leadership is “not very common in wildlife conservation”. Rocky Mountain Wild is a non-profit organisation that works to stem the loss of native species and wild habitat in the Southern Rocky Mountain region. In its press release about the proposed bill, Mueller observed – “Wolverines are one of the last species that historically called Colorado home that have yet to be restored. Bringing wolverines back to Colorado is the best way to give them a chance to survive as the climate changes. We are grateful to see this bipartisan leadership and support for wolverine reintroduction” (30). Republican state senator Perry Will, a sponsor of the bill, said “If we don’t do [wolverines] legislatively, we will get a ballot initiative” (29) an allusion to the ballot process in 2020 whereby Coloradans voted to reinstate the wolf (31-33)

Wolverines were only listed for protection as threatened under the Endangered Species Act as recently as last November after decades of petitioning and litigation to get the US Fish and Wildlife Service to respond to the threats this species faced, of a low population that is widely dispersed across snowpack core areas with poor connectivity, as well as poor connectivity with the population in Canada, the main source of wolverines, and which impedes female dispersal, reduces genetic diversity, and puts it at risk from climate change; trapping for fur in southern Canada; and disturbance from human infrastructure such as multi-lane highways, and intolerance from disturbance due to back country winter recreational activity (34-37). The consequences of the listing were that the US Fish and Wildlife Service had to issue regulations for the protection of wolverines that limits take of the species deemed necessary to provide for its conservation (i.e. prohibiting harassing, hunting, shooting, killing trapping etc) that areas of habitat critical to its survival can be designated, and that a species recovery plan must be produced (38). The Service has produced an interim rule that regulates the take of wolverines and a recovery outline, but due to a lack of data on economic impact is not yet able to publish a designation for critical habitat (36,39). It is this listing of the wolverine as threatened, as it was the listing of endangered for the wolf (40) that brought forward that stipulation in the proposed bill for wolverines to be reclassified as a nonessential experimental population during reinstatement in Colorado. It is again this thing about management flexibility (see above).

What is a wolverine?

I briefly saw in 2008 what I took to be an American marten scuttle through the tree canopies as I walked into Never Summer Wilderness next to the western side of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado (41). Like our pine marten (Martes martes) the American marten (Martes americana) (42) is a member of the mustelid family, a group that includes in America the sea otter, northern river otter, pacific marten, ermine, long-tailed weasel, black-footed ferret, least weasel, mink, fisher and American badger (43). I was confused later when I saw in the description for Never Summer Wilderness that you might see a wolverine in its northern section (44). However, weighing up to 15kg or more, and with a body length of up to 105 cm, the wolverine is the largest terrestrial mustelid in N. America (25, 35, 45). While I see in photos the similarity to martens, their large size, short, rounded ears, a broad head and a stocky body, sometimes gets the wolverine mistaken for small bears, albeit that their bushy and relatively long tail (up to 26cm) should distinguish them. It might also have been a fisher (Pekania pennanti) that I saw, another endangered mustelid that is only found in N. America, and which is a similar size to the marten, but their distribution in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California rules them out (46,47). I should note that due to its listing as an endangered species, there is a recovery outline for the fisher (48) as well as the proposal to designate ~240,988 hectares as critical habitat in those mountains (49).

Wolverines are solitary, highly mobile, wide-ranging territorial animals with large home ranges in relatively inaccessible, high-elevation landscapes that have alpine to subarctic conditions (25,35,36,42,50). While nocturnal, they are most active during morning and evening and do not hibernate. Home ranges for adults vary greatly, from less than 100 to over 900 km2 depending on availability of food, gender, age, and differences in habitat, the males having the larger home ranges. Males and females defend their range and mark it with scent from their anal glands. They have high dispersal ability, individuals being known to travel up to 30 km in one night over rough terrain and deep snow. Wolverines are opportunistic feeders with high dietary adaptability, their exceptional sense of smell enabling them to find food beneath deep snow. They eat from a wide variety, such as small rodents, rabbits, porcupines, ground squirrels, marmots, birds and eggs, fish, carrion, roots, and berries. They have sharp claws that are semi-retractable and a powerful bite. Prey are captured by pursuit, ambush, digging out dens, or climbing into trees. Large prey is killed by biting the back or front of the neck, severing neck tendons or crushing the trachea. Although wolverines are able to kill large ungulates like moose or deer if those animals are weakened and hampered in deep snow, they are more likely to be scavenged. To make their food supply more predictable, and improve survival and reproductive success, wolverines routinely cache in deep snow perishable meat acquired by scavenging or predation. The cold conditions allow for long storage of cached food and discourage less cold-adapted predators from raiding caches. They scent-mark food caches from the anal gland and with urine.

The current distribution of breeding populations of wolverine in America includes the Cascades in Washington and the Rocky Mountains in Idaho, western Montana, and northwestern Wyoming. Females are sexually mature after three to four years, breeding occurring during every other summer, and with the females undergoing delayed implantation until the following winter to spring, when active gestation lasts from 30 to 40 days. Litters are born between February and April, containing one to five kits, with two to three being most common. They give birth in dens buried under deep snow cover that consist of tunnels that contain well-used runways and bed sites and may naturally incorporate shrubs, rocks, and downed logs as part of their structure. Because wolverines have a low reproductive rate, suitability of denning habitat for bearing and rearing young is an important consideration for a demographically viable population i.e. one that is stable in the face of random perturbations in mortality, fertility, and sex ratio. A persistent, stable snow cover greater than 1.5 m deep appears to be a requirement for dens because it buffers cold winter temperatures and provides security for offspring against predation. Young stay with the female through the summer and into the autumn when they are nearly full-grown. The typical lifespan of a wolverine in the wild is six to ten years. Natural predators of wolverine include bears, cougars, and wolves, although their fierceness, aggression and ability to climb trees offers protection.

Transboundary co-operation on wolverine

I first came across wolverine when I was writing a review of the status and conservation of wild land in Europe for the Scottish Government back in 2010 (51). My colleague Steve had mapped what he called the Wilderness Quality Index (WQI) across Europe, based on a combination of biophysical naturalness, population accessibility, road density, remoteness, and ruggedness. We could see that the higher WQI values, and thus potentially wilder land, could be found in high altitude and high latitude areas (i.e. arctic and mountainous regions). However, significant areas of high WQI existed outside of mountainous regions. We needed something else to establish the worth of WQI in searching out areas of wildland. It struck me that the protected areas established in EU member states for keystone species (52) - I would now call them strongly interactive species (53) – that are strictly protected under the Habitats Directive (see Annex II in (54)) were likely to be indicative of the natural range of these species and the biophysical reality needed by their habitat requirements. We got the mapping datasets for the protected areas for wolf, Eurasian and Iberian lynx, brown bear, Arctic fox, wolverine and bison. Steve used his laptop to overlay these on a map of WQI while we were travelling on a train up to Edinburgh for an early steering group meeting for the review. To our delight, visual inspection indicated that there was a high correlation between protected areas for these strongly interactive species with the higher end of the WQI. This was particularly true for the protected areas for wolverine in Finland, where it appeared that they also correlated with mountainous areas (see Figs. 5.2 and 5.6(b) in (51)).

I hadn’t thought much about wolverines back then, they weren’t part of Britain’s extant fauna, and the usual photographs showed a shaggy brown beast with bushy tail perched more often than not on snow (55,56). Their extant distribution in Europe is Finland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and Estonia (perhaps as a vagrant from Russia) where they are classified as vulnerable under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to declining numbers of around 2,000 adults (55,57). Their continued survival is threatened due to their small and fragmented distribution, and the potential for their future survival may be weakened by the likelihood of low genetic diversity. There has been an action plan for the conservation of wolverines in Europe since 2000, and which listed threats of a slow recovery after population reduction due to relatively slow breeders, with small litters; small and partly isolated populations at risk from interbreeding; fragmentation and isolation of habitat as well as habitat loss; the setting of quotas for hunting, especially in reindeer herding areas, as a means to minimise damage to free-ranging livestock; illegal killing; and the conflict with rural communities over their year around predation on domesticated reindeer in northern parts of Fennoscandia, and on unattended sheep during the summer grazing period (58). Many actions were recommended, but there was no recognition that conservation of wolverine should be regarded as a transboundary issue. Similar ground on wolverine was covered in an updated status of large carnivores in Europe in 2013, but which emphasized the chronic threat of the low population goals set by both Norway and Sweden because of conflict with semi‐domestic reindeer herding in both countries, as well as sheep farming in Norway, and which had led to over culling (59).

A recent study in 2022 that analysed 1,708 DNA samples non-invasively collected throughout Finland, Norway and Sweden, showed two distinct geographically separated genetic clusters of wolverines with a contact zone in Finland (60). The implication was that despite the ability of wolverines to travel great distances, there was no mixing between the Scandinavian population - which included those in Norway, Sweden and northern Finland - and the southeastern Finland population (part of the Karelian population that includes those over the border in Russia) thus leaving the Scandinavian population with lower genomic diversity. It was suggested that the low density of wolverines in southern Finnish Lapland, the contact zone between the two populations, despite having favourable wolverine habitat and denning conditions, was what caused the genetic bottleneck. Southern Finnish Lapland is the reindeer husbandry area where there is selective removal of wolverine causing severe damage under the Finnish management plan for wolverines from 2014 (61). The authors of the genetic study noted that protection and management regimes differ between Finland, Norway and Sweden, but that cooperation to improve transboundary management of wolverines had started. It was also being addressed in the literature through a study comparing the governance of large carnivores in each of the three countries (62) and by a study that showed that more extensive lethal control of wolverine on the Norwegian side of the border created a source-sink dynamic with asymmetric migration rates that lowered the Swedish part of the population (63). The authors of the genetic study argued that the large areas of low resistance to gene flow suggested that transboundary cooperation with aligned actions on culling and conflict mitigation could improve genetic connectivity across Finland, Sweden, and Norway so that it could function as one transboundary population, and which argued for a close collaboration between the three countries (60).

As it was, a framework for transboundary cooperation on management and conservation of wolverines in Fennoscandia was published recently on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland, the Norwegian Environment Agency, and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (64). The framework built on an agreement in 2011 developing collaboration on large carnivores. Its drafting was informed by a workshop in Sweden in 2020 organised by the Life Euro Large Carnivores project (65) plus a second workshop between the drafters and project staff. While not a legally binding document, the Framework stated that one of its long-term goals was to increase the genetic connectivity between the different sub-populations between the Fennoscandia population and the Finnish-Karelian population by identifying and increasing the survival of migrants based on the DNA in non-invasively collected samples (64). Another approach was to increase possibilities for gene-flow across the Swedish-Finnish border, and thus natural migration, through establishing stable breeding populations on both sides of the border. This would likely facilitate the increase of natural migration also to other parts of Scandinavia. There were also commitments to increasing personnel exchange between the three countries; to extend transboundary co-operation between field personnel in monitoring; to continuously meet together to share each country’s competencies and strategies for mitigating conflicts; and to collaborate efforts across borders in order to monitor and reduce the extent and effects of illegal killing. Two appendices gave a wealth of data on wolverine populations in Fennoscandia and their distribution and population genetics; and on the different management approaches to wolverine in Finland, Norway, and Sweden.

The pine marten is our wolverine

Wolverine have existed in the mammal fauna of Britain: Yalden in his history of British mammals tabulates and maps the small number of fossil findings mostly associated with the Devensian period (66) the last cold, glacial period that spanned ~115-10kya (67). In a biostratigraphy for the Late Pleistocene of Britain, which covers the Devensian, wolverine was found in a low species diversity vertebrate fauna of widespread occurrence during the Early Devensian, the dominant elements of the assemblage being steppe bison and reindeer, with wolf, mountain hare, brown bear, and Arctic fox (68). The authors note that this community was very similar to that found in the higher latitudes of North America up to modern times – “It is clearly the vertebrate assemblage of a cold environment”. Yalden, when looking at the opportunities for reintroducing British mammals, suggested wolverine was too poorly known as a British mammal to be sure when it became extinct or through what cause (69). However, given that no definitive evidence of human activity was found in the Early Devensian mammal assemblage, the association of wolverine with one of the colder periods in our pre-history, coupled with the lack of extensive, stable snowpack in our current climate that could sustain their life history, then wolverine would not be a candidate for reinstatement.

Yalden did say that there was good evidence that the three rarer British predatory mammals, the polecat, pine marten and wildcat, owed their present restricted distribution to intense human persecution, and since this persecution had now diminished, it would be feasible to attempt to reintroduce them to parts of Britain where they were exterminated in the nineteenth century ((69) and see (70,71) for current status and distribution). I am not going to rehash my disappointment at the appallingly underwhelming approach to wildcat where I observed that piecemeal projects by small organisations, unguided by a national strategy with common standards, would continue to fail (72). In same vein, I hesitate to update myself on current efforts for wildcat in fear of continuing disappointment. I have also been critical of efforts to increase the distribution of pine marten, reflecting that the first translocation outside of Scotland to a large area of conifer plantation in Wales was to a sub-optimal location, as the lack of natural arboreal denning sites had to be compensated for by having to provide secure artificial denning sites off the ground (73).

In a sense, the pine marten is our wolverine: it is a protected species in Britain under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (74) as well as in Appendix III under the Bern Convention (75); and the small populations in England and Wales are regarded as Critically Endangered so that they could be liable to extinction (71,76). What I don’t see, though, unlike there is for the wolverine, is any transboundary recovery plan or designation of critical habitat by national authorities in Britain so that both have a governmental origination and a governmental undertaking. There were just research reports in the 1990s and a strategy in 2011 from the Vincent Trust, a voluntary sector organisation, for restoring pine marten to England and Wales (I referred to these in (77)). The Vincent Trust churned out another 10-year strategy for recovery in 2021 where it identified two optimal areas in which to consider pine marten reintroductions, and explored how to protect existing populations from the negative impacts of over-harvesting for translocations elsewhere in Britain (78). Importantly, it noted that proposed projects are often locally planned and motivated without knowledge of other similar projects or consideration of how they fit within the wider context of pine marten conservation. This is typical when what should be a governmental undertaking is instead consistently fobbed off by the arm’s length, non-departmental statutory agencies onto the voluntary sector (or even business (79,80)).

As far as I can see, the only contribution these arms-length bodies have made to restoring Britain’s pine martens came in a blog last June by John Holmes, Strategy Director for Natural England, on behalf also of NatureScot and Natural Resources Wales, and in which he laid out the common “position” on pine marten restoration of these three agencies (81). In a mostly banal outline of what restoration involves, including encouraging a science-led, strategic approach, but in which they have no direct involvement, the message of this blog is that these arms-length bodies are the gatekeepers in sanctioning translocations, but not in undertaking them. Both of the two optimum areas for translocation that were identified by the Vincent Trust – the landscape spanning the counties of Somerset and Devon, and in south Cumbria - have projects with voluntary organisations associated with them, and which have to rely on soft money for funding (grants from trusts, lottery) rather state or government allocated funding. Thus, Devon Wildlife Trust leads on the Two Moors Pine Marten Project (82,83) and Back On Our Map (BOOM) a project that works with communities to reintroduce locally threatened or extinct species to South Cumbria, is led by the University of Cumbria (84). A recent update on the Two Moors Pine Marten Project alleges that release sites had been selected; that full ecological impacts had been evaluated; and that a social feasibility study had been carried out (85) except none of this information is as yet publicly available. In contrast, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, which carried out the second translocation of pine marten out of Scotland, releasing 35 into the Forest of Dean between 2019 and 2021, provided all of its reports (86). In addition, a comprehensive, science-led feasibility study for the recovery of pine marten in south Cumbria is available (87) authored by elements of the team that so impressed me when I was a member of the Project Stakeholder Forum for what ultimately turned out a false start in lynx reinstatement, but through no fault of that team (88). I am aware that the licence application for translocation by the south Cumbria project was knocked back by two of the arm’s-length bodies in a decision-making process that was considered flawed by the project, which blanched at the high-handed and false assertions that it was not well planned and that supplementary information had not been supplied. Even given my bias, I find these assertions unlikely.

The information laid out above about restoration of wolves and the proposed restoration of wolverine in Colorado, and the transboundary co-operation on conservation of wolverine in Fennoscandia, makes our reinstatement of pine marten look pathetic. Perhaps our depauperate aspiration for restoring wild nature, with government and its ministerial departments shirking direct involvement, is a symptom of conditioning and acculturation to the depauperate state of our wild nature. The pettiness of nature discourse and action in Britain is stultifying. I don’t see any value in arms-length bodies as nature agencies, as they lack public accountability and should be merged with departments so that the minister can’t shrug off responsibility to them, which in turn they don’t take (89,90). This accountability in governance is the norm amongst the most effective countries in preserving their wild heritage.

Mark Fisher 15, 22 April 2024

(1) Colorado Parks and Wildlife successfully releases gray wolves on Colorado’s Western Slope, CPW News Release 18 December 2023

(2) Colorado Opens Her Arms to Wolves - First wave of wolf releases went flawlessly! Rocky Mountain Wolf Project 18 December 2023

(3) Providing opportunities for formerly native species reintroductions, Self-willed land March 2023

(4) Parks and Wildlife Commission Approves Historic Final Wolf Restoration and Management Plan, CPW News Release 3 May 2023

(5) Colorado Parks and Wildlife secures source population of gray wolves for initial reintroduction efforts from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, , CPW News Release 6 October 2023

(6) Record of decision and final environmental impact statement on Colorado gray wolf 10(j) rule released ahead of schedule, CPW News Release 15 September 2023

(7) USFWS releases final environmental impact statement & draft decision to designate a gray wolf experimental population in Colorado, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service PRESS RELEASE 15 September 2023

(8) Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan. FINAL Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan, Colorado Parks and Wildlife

(9) Colorado cattle industry sues over wolf reintroduction on the cusp of the animals’ release, Jesse Bedayn, Associated Press News 12 December 2023

(10) Rocky Mountain Wolf Project stands behind wolves and Coloradans in response to anti-wolf lawsuit - Lawsuit seeks to thwart the will of Colorado voters, upend democratic process, Rocky Mountain Wolf Project 15 December 2023

(11) Federal judge denies cattle industry’s request to temporarily halt wolf reintroduction in Colorado, Jesse Bedayn, Associated Press News 16 December 2023

(12) Colorado Parks and Wildlife successfully completes gray wolf capture work in Oregon, Colorado Parks and Wildlife 22 December 2023

(13) CPW secures source population of 15 gray wolves from Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, CPW News Release 19 January 2024

(14) Colorado Parks and Wildlife locates, collars two wolves in North Park, CPW News Release 3 February 2023

(15) New map will help inform Coloradans on general areas inhabited by gray wolves in Colorado, CPW News Release 24 January 2024

(16) Collared Gray Wolf Activity 23 January 23, 2024- 27 February 2024, Colorado Parks and Wildlife 28 February 2024

(17) CPW releases updated collared gray wolf activity map on general areas inhabited by gray wolves in Colorado, CPW News Release 27 March 2024

(18) Colorado Parks and Wildlife confirms wolf-livestock depredation in Grand County, CPW News Release 3 March 2024

(19) Colorado wolf reintroduction plan evolves as challenges threaten early 2024 deadline to have predators roaming Western Slope, Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun 23 February 2023

(20) Gray Wolves Win National Recovery Plan, Center for Biological Diversity 14 December 2023

(21) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completes status review and finding for gray wolves in the Western United States; launches National Recovery Plan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2 Feb 2024

(22) Lynx Reintroduction, Colorado Parks and Wildlife June 2014

(23) Lynx reintroduced 20 years ago in Colorado; CPW monitoring shows stable population, CPW News Release 22 October 2019

(24) Wolverine reintroduction bill is introduced through Colorado Legislature, CPW News Release 5 March 2024

(25) Wolverine, Colorado Parks and Wildlife

(26) How a Fort Collins man got the only images of a wolverine in Rocky Mountain National Park, Miles Blumhardt, Fort Collins Coloradoan 12 March 2024

(27) SB 24-171 - Restoration of Wolverines. Concerning authorization for the restoration of the North American wolverine in the state. 2024 Regular Session, Colorado General Assembly


(29) Colorado’s high country could support 180 wolverines. A bipartisan bill aims to start reintroduction, Michael Booth and Jason Blevins, Colorado Sun 7 March 2024

(30) Colorado Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Restore Wolverines to Colorado, Rocky Mountain Wild Press Release 5 March 2024

(31) The separation between wolves and humans in modified landscapes, Self-willed land March 2020

(32) A wolf-shaped hole in Britain, Self-willed land September 2022

(33) Colorado Proposition 114, Gray Wolf Reintroduction Initiative (2020) BallotPedia,_Gray_Wolf_Reintroduction_Initiative_(2020)

(34) Wolverine Receives Much-Needed Endangered Species Act Protections - Fish and Wildlife Service to List Species as Threatened Following Decades of Litigation, Center for Biological Diversity November 29, 2023

(35) North American wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus), Environmental Conservation Online System (ECOS) US Fish and Wildlife Service

(36) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Recovery Outline for the Contiguous United States Distinct Population Segment of the North American Wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus). Portland, Oregon 22 December 2023

(37) Species Status Assessment Addendum FOR THE NORTH AMERICAN WOLVERINE (Gulo gulo luscus) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service September 2023

(38) Endangered Species Act of 1973, Public Law No: 93-205 (12/28/1973)

(39) Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status With Section 4(d) Rule for North American Wolverine, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Federal Register Vol. 88, No. 229 30 November 2023 / Rules and Regulations

(40) Gray wolf (Canis lupus) Environmental Conservation Online System (ECOS) US Fish and Wildlife Service

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