Despite a slow start to 2017, largely due to the White House Memorandum delaying the effective date of new regulations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is picking up steam. In April 2017, the Service initiated the following activities under the Endangered Species Act (ESA):
- On April 20, 2017, the Service initiated five-year status reviews for 138 species in Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and California. The Service is conducting the status reviews pursuant to section 4(c)(2) of the ESA, which requires the Service to review each listed species’ status at least once every five years. The Service is requesting new information regarding the species by June 19, 2017.
- On April 19, 2017, the Service issued 90-day findings on petitions to list the Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) as threatened under the ESA and the Mojave population of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) as an endangered species under the ESA. Based on its review, the Service concluded that the petitions did not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted.
- On April 17, 2017, the Service initiated five-year status reviews for eight endangered animal species. As described above, the Service is required to conduct the status reviews pursuant to section 4(c)(2) of the ESA. The Service is requesting that information regarding the species be submitted by June 16, 2017.
- On April 7, 2017, the Service withdrew a proposed rule to list the headwater chub (Gila nigra) and a distinct population segment (DPS) of the roundtail chub (Gila robusta) from the lower Colorado River basin as threatened species under the ESA. The Service explained that the withdrawal was based on a thorough review of the best scientific and commercial data available, which indicated that the headwater chub and the roundtail chub DPS are not discrete taxonomic entities and do not meet the definition of a species under the ESA. According to the Service, the fish are now recognized as a part of a single taxonomic species—the roundtail chub (Gila robusta). The Service therefore concluded that the species were not listable species under the ESA.
- On April 5, 2017, the Service issued a final rule removing the scarlet-chested parrot (Neophema splendida) and the turquoise parrot (Neophema pulchella) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. After reviewing the status of the species, the Service concluded that the threats to the parrots had been eliminated or reduced, and that the species are not currently in danger of extinction, and are not likely to again become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future in all or a significant portion of their ranges.
- On April 5, 2017, the Service issued a proposed rule to list the yellow lance (Elliptio lanceolata) as a threatened species under the ESA. The yellow lance is a freshwater mussel native to Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. According to the Service, the largest threats to the future viability of the yellow lance relate to habitat degradation from stressors influencing water quality, water quantity, instream habitat, and habitat connectivity.