U.S. Updates Endangered Species List
Washington - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released its yearly appraisal of the current status of plants and animals that are candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Candidate Notice of Review was published in today's Federal Register. Four species were removed from the candidate list and five species were added since the last review in September 2006. There are now 280 species recognized by the Service as candidates for ESA protection.
As part of this review, the Service is soliciting public comment and additional information on these candidate species, as well as information on species that may be eligible for addition to future candidate updates. This information will be valuable in preparing listing documents and future revisions or supplements to the notice of review.
"The candidate list helps the Service, states and our partners focus attention and effort on the species most in need of careful management," said Service Director H. Dale Hall. "Because of successful conservation efforts with our partners, significant threats to a number of these candidate species have been removed."
Hall highlighted the important role conservation efforts play in reducing risks to species not yet listed. The Surprising Cave beetle in Kentucky is one example. It was removed as a candidate after an assessment found that the species' range was larger and the threats to its continued existence had decreased. In addition, Mammoth Cave National Park entered into a 15-year agreement to conserve the cave beetle and its habitat, which includes Surprising Cave and three other caves in the park. This conservation agreement is just one of many such agreements across the country helping to conserve at-risk species before they require ESA protection. More than 150 candidate and at-risk species currently benefit from candidate conservation agreements.
Three other species were removed from the candidate list this year:
* The basalt daisy, a plant found in Washington, was removed from the candidate list due to conservation efforts and information indicating the species is more abundant than once believed. Surveying and monitoring led to the identification of two additional populations of this plant and the most recent survey further affirmed stable numbers suggested by earlier surveys, leading the Service to conclude that this species no longer meets the definition of a candidate.
* The Warm Springs Zaitzevian riffle beetle, an insect found in Montana, was removed from the list due to conservation efforts. Through the implementation of a management plan since 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Fish Technology Center has managed and protected the habitat for the beetle. That protection has been further reinforced by the commitments of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Montana State University through a Conservation Assessment and Strategy signed in 2006, leading to the removal of this beetle from the candidate list.
* The slender moonwort, a plant known to occur in Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, and portions of Canada, was removed because it is more abundant than previously recognized and there is insufficient information to justify its continued candidate status.
This year, the Service evaluated several species under the candidate process and found that five warrant ESA protection. The five new candidate species are:
* Las Vegas buckwheat, a plant species found in Clark and Lincoln Counties, Nevada;
* New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, a mammal species found in Apache County, Arizona; a small portion of Las Animas County, Colorado; and in Colfax, Mora, Otero, and Sandoval Counties, New Mexico;
* Huachuca/Canelo Distinct Population Segment of the Arizona treefrog, an amphibian found in the Huachuca Mountains and adjacent Canelo Hills in Arizona and Rancho Los Fresnos in north-central Sonora, Mexico;
* Laurel dace, a fish species found in Bledsoe and Rhea Counties, Tennessee; and
* San Bernardino springsnail, a snail found in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.
Identification of candidate species provides resource managers with advance notice of species in need of consultation, allowing them to alleviate threats before the protection of the ESA is required.
The Service has several tools for protecting candidate species and their habitat including a grants program that funds conservation projects by private landowners, states and territories. Additionally, the Service can enter into Candidate Conservation Agreements (CAA), formal agreements between the Service and one or more parties to address the conservation needs of proposed or candidate species, or species likely to become candidates, before they become listed as endangered or threatened. The CAA participants voluntarily commit to implementing specific actions that will remove or reduce the threats to these species, thereby contributing to stabilizing or restoring the species.
The complete notice and list of proposed candidate species appears in today's Federal Register and can be viewed online at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/candidates/index.html.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 548 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.