On June 16, 2022, a vote by the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) on whether the Western Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) should be listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) resulted in a 2-2 tie. Pursuant to the Commission’s rules, the Western Joshua tree will remain a “candidate” under CESA and the issue will be taken up again at a subsequent Commission meeting. The Commission will take up the Western Joshua tree’s listing status at the agency’s October 12-13, 2022 meeting and will re-open the comment period on the species’ ...
Last week, a decision out of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California restored Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) across most of the contiguous United States.
In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule removing federal protections for the last two remaining gray wolf entities listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA. The final rule asserted delisting was warranted because neither the Minnesota entity nor the 44-state entity qualified as a species, subspecies, or distinct population ...
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has issued a final rule listing the Panama City crayfish (Procambarus econfinae) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), along with a section 4(d) rule limiting take of the species. The final rule also includes a designation of eight units of critical habitat, totaling approximately 4,138 acres, in Bay County, Florida.
The Panama City crayfish is a small, semi-terrestrial crayfish that grows to about two inches in length (minus claws), and is found in southcentral Bay County, Florida. The species’ color pattern ...
On December 22, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed to list the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum) (Owl) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) primarily due to threats from climate change and habitat loss and fragmentation. The Service has also proposed to issue an ESA section 4(d) rule which would prohibit “take” of the Owl in most cases, while exempting from the prohibition certain land management activities compatible with restoration and improvement of Owl habitat where such activities have been ...
On December 10, 2021, the Biden Administration released the Fall 2021 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda), which is a semi-annual compilation of information concerning regulations and policy under development by federal agencies. Department of the Interior (DOI) entries on the Unified Agenda reveal a lengthy set of planned regulatory actions, some of which may have an impact on development and deployment of energy, construction and operation of transportation and other infrastructure, and various other economic activities. …
On July 13, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the pearl darter (Percina aurora) under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Listed as a threatened species under the ESA in September 2017, the pearl darter is a small, snub-nosed fish whose historical range includes Mississippi and Louisiana. The proposed critical habitat designation for the pearl darter includes a total of approximately 517 river miles along the Pascagoula River and Pearl River basins, which run across multiple counties in ...
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 ...
On June 7, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) agreed with the Department of Justice and declined to hear a case brought by the Kansas Natural Resource Coalition (Coalition) challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) failure to submit the Policy for the Evaluation of Conservation Efforts (PECE) Policy to Congress under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The case, which represents a unique intersection between the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) (LEPC), the Service’s PECE Policy, and the CRA, appears to foreclose the ability ...
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 ...
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") recently released a pre-publication version of its final rule to reclassify the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). The final rule will also include 4(d) rule provisions that specify when the ESA section 9 take prohibitions will apply to the beetle.
The American burying beetle, which gets its name from its tendency to burrow under vegetation or into soil during the daytime and throughout the winter hibernation season, is the largest ...
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 October 7, 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the agency’s 12-month findings that a dozen species are not warranted for listing as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In particular, the FWS decided not to list the yellow-cedar (Callitropsis nootkatensis), a slow-growing but commercially in-demand tree that occurs from southern Alaska to northern California. According to the FWS, yellow-cedars can live 500 to 700 years, with some individuals documented up to 1,600 years ...
On April 19, 2018, the California Fish and Game Commission voted 4-0 to list the tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) as a threatened species. A statewide survey conducted in 2017 estimated the California population of the species to be over 175,000 birds. The species is broadly distributed in California, occurring in roughly 40 counties, though the bulk of the population resides in the Central Valley.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned for the emergency listing of the species in 2015, based on a dramatic decline in population estimates from 2008 to 2011 and again ...
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 August 25, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule relating to the existing critical habitat for the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus). The murrelet is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed rule does not purport to change the Service’s previous designation of critical habitat for the murrelet in 1996, as amended in 2011. 61 Fed. Reg. 26,256; 76 Fed. Reg. 61,599.
The Service is reconsidering its prior critical habitat determination pursuant to the U.S. District Court for the District ...
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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