Federal wildlife officials have delayed until next summer a decision on whether wolverines should receive more federal protections.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday that the delay will be used to address questions about the impacts of climate change on wolverine habitat. Spokesman Steve Segin says the agency will decide by Aug. 4 if wolverines should be listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Government scientists say the carnivorous weasels face an uncertain future as their high mountain snow field habitat dwindles because of warming temperature.
Representatives of western states opposed to more protections say the animal's population has increased in some areas.
An estimated 250 to 300 wolverines live in the Lower 48 states, primarily in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington. Larger populations persist in Alaska and Canada.