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Endangered Species Law and Policy

Category Archives: Fish & Wildlife Service

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Fifth Circuit Issues Contentious Dissent Over Designation of Louisiana Land

Posted in Court Decisions, Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service

On June 13, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, held that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) had properly included approximately 1,500 acres in Louisiana as designated critical habitat for the endangered dusky gopher frog (Rana sevosa), even though the frog did not inhabit the land and significant alterations… Continue Reading

Endangered Species Act Case Roundup

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Litigation, National Marine Fisheries Service

Two noteworthy cases have recently been issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  The two cases address: (1) the interplay between the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and (2) the use of the deliberative process… Continue Reading

White House Chief of Staff Orders Freezing of Pending Regulations

Posted in Congress, Fish & Wildlife Service, Legislation, National Marine Fisheries Service, Regulatory Reform

On January 20, 2017, Reince Priebus, the White House Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President, issued a memorandum to the heads of all executive departments and agencies ordering them to freeze the processing of all regulations.  The stated intent of this action is to ensure that “the President’s appointees or designees have the… Continue Reading

Texas Cactus and Three Other Species Proposed for Downlisting or Delisting by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Posted in Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service, Litigation

On December 28, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to reclassify the Tobusch fishhook cactus (Sclerocactus brevihamatus ssp. tobuschii), downlisting the species from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Service concluded that, while the Cactus is not in danger of extinction, it is likely to… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Finalizes First-Ever ESA Compensatory Mitigation Policy

Posted in Conservation, Fish & Wildlife Service, Legislation, National Marine Fisheries Service

On December 27, 2016, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) issued its final Endangered Species Act (ESA) Compensatory Mitigation Policy (Policy) – the first policy to comprehensively address compensatory mitigation under the ESA.  The Policy applies to all forms of compensatory mitigation involving ESA compliance required or recommended by FWS, including conservation banks, in-lieu… Continue Reading

Comment Period Open on City of San Diego Vernal Pool HCP

Posted in Conservation, Fish & Wildlife Service

On December 23, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a notice of availability and request for public comment in the Federal Register with respect to the draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement (EIR/S) for the City of San Diego Vernal Pool Habitat Conservation Plan (VPHCP).  Comments are due by February 21, 2017.  The species covered… Continue Reading

2016 Year-End ESA Round-Up

Posted in Court Decisions, Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service

The last few weeks of 2016 involved several activities relating to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including the following: On December 27, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued the final ESA Compensatory Mitigation Policy. According to FWS, the new policy addresses permittee-responsible mitigation, conservation banking, in lieu fee programs, and other third-party… Continue Reading

Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes De-Listing the Black Capped Vireo

Posted in Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service, Litigation, Migratory Bird

On December 15, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to remove the black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla) from the list of Endangered and Threatened Species. The Service has concluded that listing is no longer warranted due to the species’ recovery. The vireo is a small migratory songbird that breeds and… Continue Reading

USFWS Initiates Status Review for Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) recently published a positive 90-day finding on a petition to list the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) and three distinct population segments as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).  The petition was filed by WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Defenders of Wildlife on September 8, 2016. … Continue Reading

New Administration Means Big Changes for Endangered Species

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Legal, National Marine Fisheries Service, Regulatory Reform

The election of Donald Trump as President, together with Republican majorities in the House and Senate, is likely to lead to important policy changes across a range of issues. While administration of the Endangered Species Act and other federal wildlife laws has not been high profile during the election season, it is an issue area… Continue Reading

Second-Ever Eagle Programmatic Take Permit Soon To Be Granted For California Wind Energy Facility

Posted in Conservation, Fish & Wildlife Service

On November 1, 2016 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced its plan to issue what will be only the second programmatic eagle take permit under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) permit program since the program’s establishment in 2009.  Programmatic permits may be sought to authorize eagle take that is associated with, but is not… Continue Reading

Wolverine Status Review Reinitiated

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

The distinct population segment of the North American wolverine (Gulo gulf luscus) has had a long and difficult history with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  However, things appeared to be changing in 2013, when, after denying a number of prior listing petitions at various stages of the process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced its proposal… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists Two Species, Designates Critical Habitat for One Species

Posted in Conservation, Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

On October 5, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) listed a beetle species as endangered, a fish species as threatened, and designated critical habitat for the fish species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service listed the Miami tiger beetle (Cicindelidia floridana), which occurs in Miami-Dade County, Florida, as endangered under… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service Revise Endangered Species Act Petition Process

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing, National Marine Fisheries Service, Regulatory Reform

On September 27, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (Agencies) published a final rule (pdf) that revises the regulations governing the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) petition process.  According to the Agencies, the revisions are intended to improve the content and specificity of petitions and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Threatened Status for San Fernando Valley Spineflower

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

On September 15, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed to list as threatened the San Fernando Valley spineflower (Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina), a plant species native to Southern California, under the Endangered Species Act.  The proposal is one of dozens under a settlement reached in litigation challenging USFWS’s failure to propose listing… Continue Reading

ESA Roundup – Listing Decisions and Recovery Actions

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing, National Marine Fisheries Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have issued listing decisions on a number of species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in recent days, and USFWS has announced notable changes in its recovery strategy for the red wolf. On September 7, 2016, USFWS reopened the comment period for its… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Incidental Take Statements Not Required for Plant Species

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Legal, Litigation

On August 15, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision granting summary judgment to the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) on the issue of whether an incidental take statement is required for plant species.  In Center for Biological Diversity v…. Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Delists Three Fox Species and Reclassifies One Other

Posted in Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule (pdf) removing the San Miguel Island fox (Urocyon littoralis littoralis), Santa Rosa Island fox (U. l. santarosae), and Santa Cruz Island fox (U. l. santacruzae) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Service also reclassified… Continue Reading

Texas Hornshell Mussel Proposed for Listing Under Endangered Species Act

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

On August 10, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a proposed rule to list the Texas hornshell (Popenaias popeii), a freshwater mussel, as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The species has been on the candidate species list for over a decade, and the proposed rule meets a listing… Continue Reading

ESA Round-Up – Summer 2016

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing, National Marine Fisheries Service

In the past few weeks, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published several Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decisions, including the following: On August 1, 2016, NMFS published a 12-month finding on a petition to list the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) under the ESA. According to NMFS,… Continue Reading

USFWS Publishes Final Methodology for Prioritizing Listing Petition Status Reviews

Posted in Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

On July 27, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) published a Federal Register notice of its final Methodology for Prioritizing Status Reviews and Accompanying 12-Month Findings on Petitions for Listing Species under the Endangered Species Act (“Methodology”).  The final Methodology clarifies several of the terms and processes identified in the draft Methodology. The… Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Holds Informational Standing Nonexistent Prior to 12-Month Finding

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service

In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the dismissal of an environmental organization’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) claim, concluding that the organization lacked standing because the informational injury alleged in the complaint could not, as a matter of law, arise until after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife… Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Upholds USFWS Designation of “Uninhabitable” Critical Habitat for Endangered Dusky Gopher Frog

Posted in Court Decisions, Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service, Legal

In a 2-1 decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected challenges to the final rule designating critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog (Rana sevosa) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act.  Markle Interests, L.L.C. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, No. 14-31008 (5th Cir. June… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Increases Civil Penalties

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Regulatory Reform

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published an interim rule (pdf) revising its civil procedure regulations for the assessment of civil penalties for violations of various laws and regulations within the Service’s jurisdiction.  The Service issued the revised procedures pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015, which requires agencies to update… Continue Reading