Posts in Delisting.

On November 4, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule (pdf) to remove the Inyo California towhee (Pipilo crissalis eremophilus) from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service concluded that delisting the Inyo California towhee is warranted because substantial threats to the species have been ameliorated or reduced since listing, and the species no longer meets the definition of a threatened species under the ESA. 

According to the Service, the total rangewide population of the towhees ...

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Last week, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a final rule (pdf) delisting the eastern distinct population segment (DPS) of the Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) from the list of threatened and endangered species. NMFS concluded that delisting is warranted because the species has met the recovery criteria outlined in its 2008 recovery plan and no longer meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

According to NMFS, the eastern DPS Steller sea lion population has increased from an estimated 18,040 ...

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Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) announced (pdf) the availability of its recovery plan (pdf) for the threatened southwest Alaska Distinct Population Segment of the northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni).  The recovery plan describes the status of the otter, its history, and a number of actions the Service believes will allow for the delisting of the otter.  With respect to the otter's declining status, the recovery plan states that "[t]he only identified threat factor that is judged to have a high importance to recovery is predation[,]" and ...

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold three public hearings on its proposed rule to delist the gray wolf (Canis lupus) from the list of endangered and threatened species. The first hearing is scheduled to occur on September 30, 2013 in Washington, DC. The second will be held on October 2 in Sacramento, California, and the third on October 4 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As we reported here, the comment period for the proposed rule has been extended to October 28, 2013. For further information regarding the proposed rule and its potential impacts on the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus ...

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On September 4, 2013, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced that the public comment period regarding its proposed rule to remove the gray wolf (Canis lupus) from the list of endangered and threatened species, which was due to close on September 11, has been extended by 45 days through 11:59 p.m. on October 28, 2013.  For a discussion of the proposed rule and its potential impacts on the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), see our June 20, 2013 post available here.  You may also want to check out Sylvia Fallon's blog post on SWiTCHBOARD, which is available here.

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On June 13, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a proposed rule (pdf) to delist the gray wolf (Canis lupus) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) throughout the United States and Mexico. The proposed rule also proposes to maintain protection for the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in the Southwest by listing it as endangered under the ESA. Presently, the gray wolf is listed in 42 states, including California. 

Previously, the Service determined (pdf) that the southwestern population of the gray wolf – known as the Mexican gray wolf – may warrant a ...

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On June 5, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) denied (pdf) two petitions to remove captive populations of the scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah), dama gazelle (Gazella dama), and addax (Addax nasomaculatus) from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In denying the petitions, the Service found it did not have the discretion to differentiate the listing status of animals in captivity from those in the wild.

The petitions, brought by Safari Club International and the Exotic Wildlife Association, sought to delist only ...

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On May 15, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) removed (pdf) the Magazine Mountain shagreen (Inflectarius magazinensis) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The Service determined that the threats to the species have been eliminated or reduced to the point that the species has recovered and no longer meets the definition of threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Magazine Mountain shagreen is a medium-sized, dusky brown or sand-colored snail found on Mount Magazine in western Arkansas. The snail was first listed ...

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently proposed (pdf) to remove the island night lizard (Xantusia riversiana) from its current listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The proposed removal is based on successful recovery efforts led by the U.S. Navy and National Park Service, which have resulted in the achievement of nearly all of the objectives established in the recovery plan for the species.

Island night lizards are found only on the Channel Islands - San Clemente Island, San Nicolas Island, and Santa Barbara Island - off the ...

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In Central Coast Forest Assoc. v. California Fish and Game Commission (pdf), the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District held that a petition to delist the endangered coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), fails at the outset because a petition to delist a species may not be employed to challenge a final determination of the Commission.  The 2-1 decision is one of a small number of reported cases to interpret the listing provisions of the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).  The decision has important state-wide ...

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On Tuesday, December 18, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed upgrading the status of the wood stork (Mycteria americana) from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The proposed change is in response to improvements in the population and habitat of the species based on the best available scientific information.

Dan Ashe, Director for the Service, remarked that the proposed reclassification "demonstrates that the [ESA] works" and that "the species is making real progress toward recovery."  The wood stork was ...

On November 26, 2012, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS or the Service) accepted a petition to delist a distinct population segment (DPS) of the Southern Resident killer whales, which is currently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

The DPS, estimated to include 88 individuals, was initially listed as endangered under the ESA in 2005.  These killer whales are "resident" type, fish-eating whales that spend a specific period of time each year in the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound. 

On August 2, 2012, the Service received a petition from the ...

On November 5, 2012, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) encouraging the Service to consider an innovative approach to support conservation of the lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus): through the use of habitat credit exchanges between companies and landowners.  The letter comes at a time when the Service is considering whether to propose to list the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Currently the Service has determined that listing of the species "is warranted ...

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Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposed rule (pdf) to remove the valley elderberry Longhorn beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus) from the list of threatened species.

The delisting will be significant for landowners, flood control agencies, and irrigation districts throughout the Central Valley of California because they will no longer be required to seek prior authorization for the incidental take of the beetle.  The beetle, as its name suggests, depends upon its host plant species, the valley elderberry, which grows along streams, rivers ...

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We previously reported the Fish and Wildlife Service's intention to delist the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the State of Wyoming.  Today the Service announced "that the Wyoming population of gray wolves is recovered and no longer warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act."  A host of news outlets reported the announcement, including the New York Times (Aug. 31, 2012, by Feilicity Barringer).  Delisting of the gray wolf is controversial, but the species has been delisted in numerous parts of the upper mid-west and western United States.

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The  Associated Press is reporting that the federal government intends to issue a final rule delisting the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in Wyoming on August 31, 2012 (The Missoulian, Aug 14, 2012, by Ben Neary).  The Fish and Wildlife Service proposed (pdf) removal of the gray wolf in Wyoming from the list of endangered and threatened species on October 5, 2011, and reopened the comment period (pdf) on that proposal on May 1, 2012.

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On June 4, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a 90-day finding (pdf) that substantial scientific or commercial information indicates that delisting the Inyo California towhee (Pipilo crissalis eremophilus) and reclassifying from endangered to threatened the arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus), Indian Knob mountainbalm (Eriodictyon altissimum), Lane Mountain milk-vetch (Astragalus jagerianus), Modoc sucker (Catostomus microps), and Santa Cruz cypress (Cupressus abramsiana) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) may be warranted.  The Service will now conduct status reviews for these six species which result in a 12-month finding for each species determining whether the action is, in fact, warranted.

The Pacific Legal Foundation petitioned the Service requesting these actions on December 19, 2011.  The Foundation's petition was based on information contained in the most recent 5-year reviews for these six species, which were completed in 2008 and 2009.

As previously blogged about here, on December 9, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (Services) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (PDF) in the Federal Register that will, if adopted, change the Services' standards for listing and delisting species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by re-interpreting the definitions of "threatened" and "endangered" species in the ESA.

In a letter to the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service (PDF) dated January 26, 2012, Congressman Markey, the ranking ...

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Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced that the Fish and Wildlife Service would remove the gray wolf (Canis lupus) population in the Great Lakes region from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The species was listed in 1967 under the predecessor to the ESA.  The final rule delisting the gray wolf is available here (pdf).  The Service released the proposed rule (pdf) on May 5, 2011.  The population of gray wolfs in the Great Lakes region is estimated (pdf) to include 2,921 wolves in Minnesota, 687 wolves in ...

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Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (Services) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (PDF) in the Federal Register that will, if adopted, change the Services' standards for listing and delisting species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  See Draft Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase ‘‘Significant Portion of Its Range’’ in the Endangered Species Act’s Definitions of ‘‘Endangered Species’’ and ‘‘Threatened Species.’’ 76 Fed. Reg. 76,987 (Dec. 9, 2011). 

Under the ...

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The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced a 90-day finding (pdf) that delisting the Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus) may be warranted.  The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) initially petitioned the Service to delist the beetle in September 2010.  In April 2011, PLF filed a lawsuit seeking a court order directing the Service to issue a finding on PLF's petition.  The 90-day finding commences the Service's status review of the species to determine whether delisting is warranted.  The Service is requesting available data on the beetle.  The ...

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On August 3, 2011, a federal judge upheld (pdf) a congressional budget rider that removed Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Utah. The legislation was included as part of the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 (pdf) (H.R. 1473) (the Act), which was passed by Congress and signed by the President in April 2011. Section 1713 of the Act directed the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) to reissue a 2009 rule that removed ESA restrictions on the gray wolf, except for in the state of ...

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In a decision that underscores the regulatory importance of recovery plans, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated the delisting of the Virginia northern flying squirrel on the grounds that the delisting rule modified delisting criteria in the recovery plan for the squirrel. Friends of Blackwater v. Salazar No. 09-2122 (D.D.C. March 25, 2011). The Court concluded that the Service violated section 4(f) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (requiring notice and comment on recovery plans) by relying on criteria to support delisting that varied ...

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The United States Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) has reached an agreement with the majority of the plaintiffs, including the Defenders of Wildlife, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and eight other conservation organizations, to settle ongoing litigation over a Federal District Court’s 2010 decision (pdf) to reinstate Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the Rocky Mountain gray wolf.

The proposed settlement allows the Service to temporarily return management of the recovered wolf populations in Idaho and Montana to the states, while continuing efforts to ...

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On March 2, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) completed its formal review of the status of the eastern cougar (Felis concolor couguar) and concluded that the subspecies is extinct.  The existence of the subspecies, listed since 1973, has long been questioned.  Dr. Mark McCollough, the Service's lead scientist for subspecies, noted that the eastern cougar has likely been extinct since the 1930s.  Though sightings had been reported, the Service believes they are not of the eastern cougar.  Rather, the Service believes that the sightings were actually of South ...

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On January 18, 2011, after slightly more than a quarter-century of protection, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service ("Service") announced that it will be removing the Maguire daisy (Erigeron maguirei) from the list of threatened and endangered species.  The Service recently concluded that the daisy population, which in 1985 consisted of only seven known plants, is presently comprised of over 162,000 individual plants, and "no longer meets the definition of endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973."  The Maguire daisy is just the 21st species that ...

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Introduced by eight U.S. Representatives, HR 6485 (.pdf) provides that the inclusion of the gray wolf on any list of endangered or threatened species under Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) will have no force or effect. Titled the State Sovereignty Wildlife Management Act, the bill is one of several (see SB 3825 (.pdf) and SB 3864 (.pdf)) that has been introduced over the past few months with the goal of returning wolf management to the states. The proposed legislation is meant to improve the balance of both wolf and prey populations by allowing individual states to develop ...

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The Fish and Wildlife Service announced on August 19, 2010 that it will not be removing the Stephens’ kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. This decision constitutes the Service’s 12-month finding (PDF) on a petition submitted by the Riverside County Farm Bureau in 2002 to delist the species as endangered.

The Stephens' kangaroo rat is a burrow-dwelling nocturnal mammal that inhabits arid and grassy habitats in western North America.  It is known to occur at lower elevations of the dry inland valleys west of ...

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The United States District Court for the District of Montana issued a decision (PDF) setting aside the 2009 Final Rule (PDF) that delisted the distinct population segment (DPS) of the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains, except in Wyoming.  The court found that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) does not allow the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to divide a DPS into a smaller taxonomy. 

The gray wolf was listed as endangered under the ESA in 1974.  The Service subsequently developed a wolf recovery plan, and the gray wolf was reintroduced in the northern Rockies in the mid-1990s.  ...

On April 13, 2010, the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) filed a petition (PDF)  to remove the coastal California gnatcatcher, specifically, the subspecies Polioptila californica californica, from the Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of threatened species. Considerable controversy surrounded the 1993 listing and subsequent designation of critical habitat for the coastal California gnatcatcher because its range includes prime real estate and agricultural land in the southern California counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino.

In its petition, PLF argues, in essence, that scientific studies indicate that no such subspecies exists, i.e., there is no such thing as the coastal California gnatcatcher. PLF cites scientific studies published since the 1993 listing that undermine the original basis for the listing. The decision to list the gnatcatcher relied heavily on research published in the early 1990s indicating that the relatively small population of gnatcatchers in southern California formed a subspecies of the much larger population of California gnatcatchers that extends from Los Angeles to the southern end of Baja, Mexico. But studies based on genetic analysis and re-analysis of the original data set that led to the listing conclude that there is no biological basis for the P. c. californica taxonomic classification. If there is no such subspecies, then, according to PLF, the gnatcatcher is not threatened because the larger population inhabiting southern California and Baja, Mexico is not vulnerable to extinction in the near future.

If the Fish and Wildlife Service delists the gnatcatcher, the designation of nearly 200,000 acres of land as critical habitat will be withdrawn. Delisting, however, would not result in the removal of all regulatory protections for the gnatcatcher in southern California. Much of the coastal California gnatcatcher’s range is already subject to conservation under the terms of Habitat Conservation Plans that collectively cover millions of acres, and the gnatcatcher is also protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Accordingly, delisting may have little or no practical effect for many landowners and developers in the region.

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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