In an article published this week in California Fish and Wildlife, co-authors Stephanie Clark, Ashley Remillard and I provide an overview of the process of determining whether to list species as threatened or endangered, and thereby protect them, under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Listing is the gateway to protection under CESA. The process is analogous to listing under the federal Endangered Species Act in certain respects but it also differs in a number of respects, perhaps the most important being that the decision whether to list a species is made by the Fish and ...
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced the next chapter in the lesser prairie chicken’s (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) (LEPC) tumultuous listing history. On May 26, 2021 the USFWS announced that it will propose a rule to establish a Northern distinct population segment (DPS) and a Southern DPS of the LEPC. USFWS has proposed to list the Southern DPS – consisting of portions of New Mexico and Texas – as endangered. If finalized, the ESA take prohibition would apply across the Southern DPS without exception. The USFWS proposes to list the Northern DPS ...
A pair of non-profit organizations recently served a 60-day notice of intent (Notice) to file a citizen suit against Hilton Hotels, Bahia Mar Resorts, and the Suntex Marinas (collectively, the Resorts) under section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the alleged take of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) in Florida. ESA section 9 prohibits the unpermitted “take” of any endangered species, and the ESA defines “take” as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect,” or an attempt to do ...
On August 19, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule that would remove the Stephens’ kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi) from the federal list of Endangered Species. The proposed rule would, instead, list the kangaroo rat as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and would provide a rule under ESA section 4(d) to provide for conservation of the kangaroo rat.
The Stephens’ kangaroo rat was originally listed as an endangered species in 1988. It is a small, nocturnal mammal, with external cheek pouches, large hind legs, a long tail ...
On May 3, 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to downlist the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) from endangered to threatened. The Service also proposed a rule under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to allow many routine activities to occur within the range of the species, even if they result in incidental take of the species, in light of the fact that such activities do not affect the overall viability of the American burying beetle.
The American burying beetle is a nocturnal species that has a one year ...
On Monday, June 18, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that it has initiated five year status reviews for fifty species in California, Nevada, and the Klamath Basin of Oregon, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Included among the species whose ESA listing status is being reviewed are 19 animal species, four of which are currently listed as threatened, while the remaining 14 are currently listed as endangered. Additionally, the FWS is reviewing thirty-one plant species.
As part of its review, FWS will be accepting new information pertinent to the ...
Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) finalized its reclassification of the Tobusch fishhook cactus (Sclerocactus brevihamatus ssp. tobuschii), a small cactus found in Texas, downlisting the species from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
As previously reported here, the Service concluded that downlisting the cactus was warranted given an increase in the number of observed individuals. While only 200 cactuses were known when the species was listed as endangered in 1979, the Service now estimates there are more than 3,300 ...
On April 3, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final to rule listing the yellow lance mussel (Elliptio lanceolata) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The final rule states that only seven populations of this freshwater mussel remain, all of which are located in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. The listing was prompted by a mega-petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and several other environmental organizations in 2010 that included the mussel. In September 2015, after litigation had been filed regarding the ...
On April 2, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed downlisting the Hawaiian goose (Branta sandvicensis), locally known as the nene, from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also proposed adopting a special rule pursuant to ESA section 4(d), known as a section 4(d) rule, allowing incidental take of nene for particular conservation and law enforcement functions.
The nene was federally listed as endangered in 1967, after the population fell below 30 individuals on Hawaii’s Big Island. The Service instituted a ...
On February 27, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) finalized a regulation removing Eureka Valley evening-primrose (Oenothera californica ssp. eurekensis) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. The delisting, originally proposed in 2014, is based on the elimination of threats to the subspecies, accomplished largely as a result of the 1994 designation and ongoing management of its dune habitat as federal wilderness within Death Valley National Park. The National Park Service manages the federal wilderness area under the Park Service’s Organic ...
On January 30, 2018, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a final rule listing the oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharinus lonigmanus) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This final listing rule is the culmination of NMFS’ analysis following the 2015 petition filed by Defenders of Wildlife seeking to either list the species range-wide or, alternatively, to list two distinct populations (DPSs) of the oceanic whitetip shark. In the final rule, NMFS notes that the shark is a globally-distributed species that has not undergone any range ...
On September 20, 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed three separate species under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"). USFWS listed the Sonoyta mud turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense) as endangered, and the 'I'iwi (Drepanis coccinea) and pearl darter (Percina aurora) as threatened species under the ESA. Despite listing all three species, the USFWS deferred designating critical habitat for the three species. The three listing decisions, all of which were compelled by settlements that the USFWS entered into during the Obama administration, are summarized below.
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. Bureau of Land Management, No. 14-15836, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14949, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) challenged BLM’s adoption of a Recreational Area Management Plan (Plan) for off-road vehicles in the Imperial Sand Dunes Special Recreation ...
On April 27, 2015, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released the text (pdf) of the National Defense Authorization Act (Act), including language that would ban the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) from issuing its listing decision for the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) through September 30, 2025. The Act would also limit the application of federal conservation plans for the species.
As we previously reported, the greater sage-grouse is a candidate species under the ESA. In 2010, the Service ...
On December 5, 2014 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) released its Fiscal Year 2014 Threatened and Endangered Species Candidate list. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), when the USFWS either receives a petition from a third party to list a species as threatened or endangered, or when the USFWS decides of its own accord to evaluate a species for listing, it is required to issue a 90 day finding on the potential listing, and then a 12-month finding, followed by a determination on the species' status. Forty species received final listing decisions this year. USFWS may delay a ...
On December 3, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published its proposed rule designating critical habitat for the threatened Arctic Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida hispida). (79 Fed. Reg. 71,714). The proposed designation, if finalized, would mark one of the largest critical habitat designations in the Bering, Beaufort, and Chukchi seas, consisting of millions of acres. The seal, which was designated as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in December 2012, is the smallest of the northern seals with an average lifespan of 15 to 28 years. (77 ...
On October 24, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule listing the Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae) as a threatened species and the Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The Dakota skipper is found in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Manitoba and Sasketchewan, and that the Poweshiek skipperling is found in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Manitoba. The Service determined that the Dakota skipper is likely to become endangered throughout all of its range within the ...
On October 6, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a news release (pdf) announcing its proposal to list the West Coast Distinct Population Segment (West Coast DPS) of fisher (Pekanian pennanti) as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), in part due to significant threats from illegal marijuana farming.
The fisher belongs to a family of mammals that includes weasels and otters, and grows to about the size of a large house cat. The Federal Register notice (pdf) regarding the proposed listing, which was published yesterday, states that the ...
On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the listing of the Webber's ivesia (Ivesia webberi) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and the designation of 2,170 acres of critical habitat in Plumas, Lassen, and Sierra Counties in northeastern California, and in Washoe and Douglas Counties in northwestern Nevada. As stated in a related announcement issued by the Service, the rule listing the Webber's ivesia and designating critical habitat will not become effective until July 3, 2014. The identified threats to the species include ...
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."
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 ...
On July 17, 2013, the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, after finding that the plaintiffs could not establish a likelihood of success on the merits, denied (pdf) a motion to enjoin a 28,545 acre vegetation management project that involved the commercial and non-commercial harvest of over 20,000 acres of forest (the "Project").
In 2011, the U.S. Forest Service ("Forest Service") issued a biological assessment concluding that the Project may affect, but was not likely to adversely affect, the threatened bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) or its ...
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 ...
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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