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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule (pdf) listing the Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia) and the Salado salamander (Eureycea chisholmensis) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also issued a proposed special rule for the Georgetown salamander under section 4(d) of the ESA, which authorizes the take of protected species in certain instances.

The primary threat to the species is habitat degradation due to declining water quality and disturbance of surface spring sites. According to the Service, urban development ...

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Today, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced (pdf) a 90-day finding on a petition to list the Hector’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori), the Baltic Sea subpopulation of harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), the eastern Taiwan Strait subpopulation of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis), and the Fiordland subpopulation of the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) under the Endangered Species Act. The announcement came as a result of NMFS' determination that the petition presented substantial scientific and commercial information ...

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a final rule listing the Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia) and Salado salamander (Eureycea chisholmensis) as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.  The final rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Monday.  According to an article by Claire Osborn of the Austin American-Statesman, "Williamson County officials have said the area would lose millions of dollars in development if the salamanders are listed."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced (pdf) that it will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on a proposed application for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP), including a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The application concerns the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicintus), which the Service has proposed to be listed as threatened under the ESA.

A group of stakeholders representing energy, agricultural, and conservation industries and organizations (Stakeholders) submitted the application. If ...

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Yesterday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) recommended that the California Fish and Game Commission not list the gray wolf as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. Following a yearlong review, DFW determined that the scientific evidence does not warrant listing the species at this time. Instead, DFW recommended designating the gray wolf as a species of special concern – which affords the gray wolf some protection, including prohibiting the killing of the species – with a recommendation to consider placing the gray wolf on the ...

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On January 29, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced (pdf) the reopening of the public comment period for a special rule originally proposed on May 6, 2013 that would allow for limited take of the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus). As we previously reported, the proposed special rule was revised on December 11, 2013 to include a five-state conservation plan for the species. The proposed special rule allows for take of the lesser prairie-chicken as long as such take is incidental to activities conducted by an individual enrolled in the ...

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The National Marine Fisheries Service (Service) recently announced (pdf) a proposed amendment to the regulatory language of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing for the Southern Resident killer whale Distinct Population Segment (DPS).  The amendment would remove the language excluding captive members of the population from ESA protection. The Service’s action comes in response to a petition submitted by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to include Lolita as a protected member of the DPS. Lolita, the sole captive member of the Southern Resident killer whale ...

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As we previously reported, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has proposed to list the Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) and the Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as endangered and threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and to designate millions of acres of land as critical habitat for the species.  (See our prior posts on January 23, 2013 and October 29, 2013.)  Because of the controversy surrounding the proposed listings and designations, the Service has extended the comment period on the proposals to ensure that the public has ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently affirmed (pdf) its decision to list the White Bluffs bladderpod (Physaria douglasii subsp. tuplashensis) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Service also revised its designation of critical habitat for the plant species to exclude certain private and state lands in Franklin County, Washington.

The Service previously published a final rule to list the species (pdf) and designate critical habitat (pdf) on April 23, 2013.  However, the Service delayed the effective date of these rules in order to accept ...

 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced (pdf) the completion of its status review (pdf) of Coleman’s coralroot (Hexalectris colemanii), a species of orchid found in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. The Service determined that listing the orchid as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is not warranted at this time.

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petitioned the Service to protect Coleman’s coralroot under the ESA in September 2010. Originally thought to be part of the Chisos coralroot, the ...

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On December 11, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a revised special rule (pdf) that would provide for a limited exception to the protections currently proposed for the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The revised special rule incorporates a new five-state rangewide conservation plan for the species, and allows take of lesser prairie-chickens so long as such take is incidental to activities conducted by an individual enrolled in the rangewide conservation plan. Previous versions of the special ...

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The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a 90-day finding (pdf) on two petitions to list the pinto abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and designating critical habitat for the species. According to NMFS, there is substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the species under the ESA may be warranted.

The pinto abalone is a marine gastropod mollusk found in the Pacific Ocean. Its range extends from Sitka Island, Alaska, to Baja California, Mexico, though it is mostly found ...

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On November 14, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) determined that Gunnison’s prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisonidoes) does not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  According to the Service, the species’ populations are stable and there are no threats causing or projected to cause the species to be at risk of extinction.  The Service also removed Gunnison’s prairie dog from the candidate list of threatened or endangered species. 

Gunnison’s prairie dog includes two subspecies that occupy areas of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.  ...

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The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced (pdf) that it will not list the Gulf of Mexico population of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) as an endangered or threatened distinct population segment (DPS) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Sperm whales were originally listed as endangered under the precursor to the ESA—the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969—and remained on the list of threatened and endangered species after the passage of the ESA in 1973. In December 2011, NMFS received a petition to list the Gulf of Mexico population as a ...

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced (pdf) the reopening of the public comment periods for its January 11, 2013 proposed rules to list the Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to designate approximately 1.7 million acres of critical habitat for the species in Colorado and Utah. The Service also announced that it was rescheduling two public information sessions and public hearings for the proposed rules, as well as adding a third public informational session and public hearing. These ...

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced that it has proposed listing two butterfly species under the Endangered Species Act because of "steep population declines."  The two species are the Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek) and the Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae).  The notice issued by the Service states that "[b]oth butterfly species use prairie habitat and are threatened by degradation or changes to their habitat."  The Dakota skipper, which is proposed to be listed as a threatened species, is found in Minnesota ...

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This week, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) listed (pdf) 15 species on the island of Hawaii as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Among the species protected are the anchialine pool shrimp (Vetericaris chaceorum), an extremely rare species of shrimp of which only five individuals have ever been observed, and the picture-wing fly (Drosophila digressa). In addition, the Service listed 13 species of plants, including sunflowers, asters, shrubs, and other small trees. Specifically, the haha (Cyanea marksii), aku (Cyanea tritomantha), and ...

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On October 28, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule (pdf) to list the California and Nevada populations of the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). According to the Service, this bi-state population is genetically distinct and geographically isolated from other greater sage grouse populations, and warrants protection under the ESA.

Primary threats to the species include degradation of habitat by livestock grazing and invasive plant species, fragmentation of habitat ...

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Yesterday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued two proposed rules for the Vandenberg monkeyflower (Diplacus vandenbergensis), a small annual herb only known to occur at nine locations in western Santa Barbara County.   The first rule proposes to designate the Vandenberg monkeyflower as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act.  The second rule proposes to designate approximately 5,785 acres of critical habitat in Santa Barbara County, California for the Vandenberg monkeyflower.  In a notice, the Service states that the "primary threat to the ...

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Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published (pdf) its final determination that the ashy storm-petrel (Oceanodroma homochroa) does not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) at this time. The Service’s announcement constitutes its 12-month finding on a petition to list the species filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (Center).

The ashy storm-petrel is a small seabird that ranges from the California-Oregon border to Islas San Benitos, Mexico. The Service determined that climate change, invasive species, human activities, military ...

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Getting back into the swing of things, earlier today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the eastern small-footed bat (Myotis leibii) does not warrant listing at this time, and commented on its proposal to list the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) (pdf) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.  The notice issued by the Service states that the "primary threat to the northern long-eared bat is a disease, white-nose syndrome, which has killed an estimated 5.5 million cave-hibernating bats in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest and Canada."  ...

On October 3, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule (pdf) to list the Florida Brickell-bush (Brickellia mosieri) and Carter’s Small-flowered Flax (Linum carteri var carteri) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

According to the Service, the flower species’ habitat in the pine rockland community of Miami-Dade County has been drastically reduced due to residential and commercial development and agriculture. Moreover, there is a potential for high levels of nutrients from agricultural and urban areas to seep into the ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently proposed listing (pdf) the rufa red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The red knot is a medium-sized shorebird about 9 to 11 inches in length that migrates more than 9,000 miles annually between its breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic and Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. During its migration, the bird spends considerable time along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

According to the Service, the species has declined, in part, due to an increase in ...

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On October 3, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) declined to list (pdf) the Kittlitz’s murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris) under the Endangered Species Act. Responding to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Service concluded after a 12-month finding that, based on the best available scientific and commercial information, listing the species is not warranted at this time.

The Kittlitz’s murrelet is an Alaskan seabird that forages in coastal waters near glacier outflows. The petition to list the species stated that glacier loss due to ...

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In December 2012, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published (pdf) a proposed rule to list 66 species of reef-building coral as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and to re-classify two species from threatened to endangered.  At that time, NMFS stated that climate change posed one of the most significant threats to these species.  NMFS has now extended (pdf) the deadline for making a final determination on all 68 species for an additional six months, citing scientific disagreement on the sufficiency, accuracy, and applicability of climate ...

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On September 24, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) entered into a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, requiring the Service to determine whether to list nine species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The agreement covers three freshwater species, the bridled darter (Percina kusha, formerly Percina sp. cf. macrocephala), Panama City crayfish (Procambarus econfinae), and Suwannee moccasinshell mussel (Medionidus walkeri), which are found in Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. Bicknell's thrush (Catharus bicknelli), a New ...

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 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently listed (pdf) the Jemez Mountains salamander (Piethodon neomexicanus) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also recently published (pdf) a final rule listing the Texas golden gladecress (Leavenworthia texana) as endangered and the Neches River rose-mallow (Hibiscus dasycalyx) as threatened under the ESA.

The Jemez Mountains salamander is found only in the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico, in Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, and Sandoval Counties. The salamander is generally found around the rim of ...

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has listed (pdf) the Neosho mucket (Lampsilis rafinesqueana) as endangered and the rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Both are species of freshwater mussels found in river systems in the eastern half of the United States.

The Service reported that of 16 historical populations of Neosho mucket, only nine remain extant, and of those all but one is declining in numbers.  The Neosho mucket has been extirpated from appriximately 62 percent of its historical range.  ...

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has proposed (pdf) listing the Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  In addition, the Service has proposed (pdf) designating over 68,000 acres throughout Washington and Oregon as critical habitat for the species.

The Service cited ongoing habitat destruction as the primary threat to the Oregon spotted frog.  Once ranging from British Columbia to northern California, the Oregon spotted frog's historic range has declined by as much as 90 percent due to the filling of ...

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On August 19, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced (pdf) its decision to list the Austin blind salamander (Eurycea waterlooensis) as endangered and the Jollyville Plateau salamander (Eurycea tonkawae) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). While the Service’s proposed listing of the two species designated both as endangered, the Service’s final rule (pdf) lists the Jollyville Plateau salamander as threatened based on new information received since publication of the listing proposal.

In conjunction with listing the two species ...

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On August 12, 2013, the National Marine Fisheries Service refused to list the alewife herring (Alosa pseudoharengus) and blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis), concluding that based on the best scientific and commercial data available, neither species warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act.  The determinationn was in response to a petition submitted by the Natural Resources Defense Council.  The news was not all bad for the herring, however, as the National Marine Fisheries Service also stated that it will be working with the Atlantic States Marines ...

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has proposed (pdf) listing the Graham’s beardtongue (Penstemon grahamii) and White River beardtongue (Penstemon scariosus albifluvis) as endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. In addition, the Service has proposed designating a combined 83,000 acres in Uintah County, Utah as critical habitat for the rare plants.

The two beardtongue species are endemic to oil shale soils, and grow mostly on the Mahogany Ledge in northeast Utah, an area rich in oil shale deposits. The Service has cited oil and gas exploration and ...

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On August 2, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed (pdf) listing Webber’s ivesia (Ivesia webberi) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also proposed (pdf) designating approximately 2,011 acres of critical habitat for the species in Plumas, Lassen, and Sierra Counties in northeastern California, and Washoe and Douglas Counties in northwestern Nevada.

Webber’s ivesia is a low, spreading, perennial forb in the rose family with grayish-green foliage, wiry stems, and clusters of small, yellow flowers. The species ...

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Today, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) completed its status review of the northeastern Pacific population of white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) and concluded (pdf) that listing the species under the Endangered Species Act is not warranted. According to Heidi Dewar, a fisheries research biologist at NMFS, the agency felt that there were more than 200 mature females alone, an indication of a total population of at least 3,000." NMFS determined that the population is neither in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range nor likely to ...

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 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently published a proposed rule (pdf) to list the Kentucky glade cress (Leavenworthia exigua var. laciniata) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also proposed (pdf) designating critical habitat for the species.

The Service previously identified the Kentucky glade cress as a candidate species on November 9, 2009. However, it was designated as a Listing Priority Number (LPN) 3. LPNs are assigned based on the immediacy of the threat to the species, as well as taxonomic status. As an LPN 3, Kentucky glade ...

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 May 28, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule (pdf) listing 35 plants and three tree snails found on the Hawaiian islands of Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Kahoolawe as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The plant species include a variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees from coastal, lowland, subalpine, and cliff environments. The animal species include two Lanai tree snails (Partulina semicarinata and Partulina variabilis) and the Newcomb’s tree snail (Newcombia cumingi). The Service proposed listing the species in July 2012.

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On May 6, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed (pdf) a limited exception to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections currently being considered for the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus). The special rule is proposed pursuant to section 4(d) of the ESA, and would allow take of lesser prairie-chickens as long as such take is incidental to activities performed under a conservation plan that the Service has determined will provide a net benefit to the species.

The lesser prairie chicken is a small, grayish-brown grouse that inhabits ...

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On April 25, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule (pdf) to list the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae) as endangered, the northern distinct population segment (DPS) of the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) as endangered, and the Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

According to the Service, populations of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog are declining due to habitat degradation and fragmentation ...

On March 25, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule (pdf) to designate critical habitat for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean Distinct Population Segment of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The proposed critical habitat includes almost 740 miles of coastline in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.  Photo by Strobilomyces at Océanopolis, Brest, France on 17th April 2006.

The loggerhead sea turtle includes nine distinct population segments (DPS ...

On March 13, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) extended (pdf) the public comment period for two proposed rules relating to the Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus).  As we previously reported, the Service published a proposed rule to list the species as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in January.  In conjunction with that proposed rule, the Service also proposed to designate approximately 1.7 million acres of critical habitat for the species in Colorado and Utah.  The 60-day public comment period for these two proposed rules was ...

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The California Fish & Game Commission (Commission) voted this week to designate the Clear Lake hitch (Lavinia exilicauda)—a fish found only in Clear Lake and its tributaries—as a candidate species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). This week’s vote triggered a one-year formal review period during which the status of the fish will be assessed.

The Clear Lake hitch population has declined dramatically due to a loss of spawning habitat in the tributaries feeding into Clear Lake. Other causes of the decline of the fish include migration barriers that block ...

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On March 1, 2013, the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) received protection (pdf) under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).  The protections prohibit anyone from hunting, pursuing, or otherwise harming the species.  Commercial fisheries that could incidentally take a shark in fishing nets, as well as scientists wishing to tag a shark for research, will have to obtain permits from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  As reported here, the protections are the result of the California Fish and Game Commission's decision to make the species a ...

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On February 6, 2013, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) voted to make the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) a candidate for protection under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).  The Commission determined that listing the species as threatened or endangered under CESA may be warranted, and initiated a one-year comprehensive review to evaluate the status of the species.  Based on this review, the Commission will make a final decision next year regarding whether to list the species.  The species will receive protection under CESA while the ...

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On February 1, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its proposal to list the wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.  The proposed listing is the result of a court-ordered deadline established by a controversial settlement between the Service and two environmental organizations.  (See our posts from January 4 and January 14 for a discussion of this controversy.)

The wolverine resembles a small bear.  Adults weigh between 17 and 40 pounds.  The range of the species includes portions of California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana ...

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On January 25, 2013, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule (pdf) to list the Zuni bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobolus yarrowi) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The sucker had been on the candidate list since 2001, when the Service determined that the species warranted protection under the ESA, but listing was precluded by higher priority listing activities.

The Zuni bluehead sucker has a torpedo-shaped body and bluish head.  The average length of a mature fish is approximately 200 centimeters (8 ...

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On January 11, 2013, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule (pdf) to list the Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  As we previously reported, the sage-grouse had been on the candidate species list since January of 2000, but the Service was not authorized to prepare a proposed rule to list the species or designate critical habitat until 2011, when additional resources became available.

The Gunnison sage-grouse is the smaller cousin of the greater sage-grouse.  The species ...

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) has determined (pdf) that there is sufficient scientific information to petition to list the Northeastern Pacific (NEP) population of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act.  Currently, the take and possession of white sharks is protected from sport and commercial fishing activities, with limited exceptions, under existing laws.  However, the scientific information in the petition demonstrates that the species may benefit from ...

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On December 28, 2012, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a final rule (pdf) listing three subspecies of the ringed seal as threatened and one subspecies as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The same day, NMFS listed (pdf) two distinct population segments of the bearded seal as threatened under the ESA. Based on the best scientific and commercial data available, NMFS concluded that a significant decrease in snow ice is probable later this century, and that these changes will likely cause these seal populations to decline. A species is considered ...

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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 ...

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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