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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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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