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Assemblymember Friedman Introduces Bill Aimed at Returning the Wolverine to California’s Wilderness

For immediate release:
A wolverine

Sacramento, CA –California’s mountains were once teeming with wolverines, a carnivorous cousin to minks and badgers. Fur trapping, hunting, and poisoning saw their numbers collapse and they largely disappeared from the state a century ago. Wolverines are still relatively common in the wilder climes of Canada and Alaska, are threatened in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho, and Montana, but other than an occasional long-distance dispersing animal, their populations have never recovered in California. Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Burbank) has introduced Assembly Bill 2722 in the hopes that California’s wolverine population might be brought back from the edge.

California has long had protections in place. Wolverines were designated as a fully protected species under the Fish and Game Code in 1970 and listed as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act in 1971. Wolverines in the lower 48 states received federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2023. Despite these efforts, California has no wolverines known to permanently reside in the state, with only two male wolverines verified in the state in recent decades.

Wolverines once played a significant ecological role in high-elevation ecosystems in California. Unlike many species that are imperiled due to habitat loss, wolverine habitat is largely intact and protected in national parks and wilderness areas, areas where there is no likelihood of conflict with other users. Restoring the wolverine to these areas can help enhance ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change.

While trapping and the fur trade have been successfully addressed by existing law, restoring a viable population of the species will require a reintroduction program. In 2023, the California Legislature passed SB 147, which requires California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to develop a plan by July 1, 2024, to assess the population status of each fully protected species. It also reaffirmed the wolverine’s place on the fully protected species list.

AB 2722 directs CDFW - as part of the planned status assessment for the wolverine pursuant to SB 147 - to conduct a feasibility study on a supplementation or reintroduction program, with the goal of reestablishing a viable population of the species in California. This bill would thus provide policymakers with essential data and is a crucial first step towards recovery of wolverines and their ecosystem in the state.

“California marveled when a lone male wolverine was spotted in Yosemite National Park last year. While wolverines are solitary and live at higher elevations, California is part of their natural home territory and seeing them here shouldn’t be that rare and won’t be in the future if we manage reintroduction carefully. AB 2722 is an important first step to making that future a reality,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman.

“California leads the nation is wildlife and habitat protection, but some of our most iconic missing species will only return to the state if we make the affirmative choice to bring them back. The wolverine belongs in California and bill helps chart the path for their very welcome return,” said Brendan Cummings, Conservation Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, sponsor of the legislation.


Laura Friedman represents 44th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Burbank, Glendale, and Los Angeles, as well as the communities of La Crescenta, Lake View Terrace, Montrose, North Hollywood, Shadow Hills, Sherman Oaks, Sunland-Tujunga, Studio City, Toluca Lake, and Valley Village.