Tag Archives: Endangered Species Act

Interior proposes reworking of Endangered Species Act

Grizzly bear sow with three cubs - NPS photo
Grizzly bear sow with three cubs – NPS photo

Here’s an excellent article by Rob Chaney of the Missoulian concerning the Interior Department’s proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act. . . .

Proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act would give federal agencies much more leeway to shrink critical habitat and modify protection rules for vulnerable animals and plants.

Interior and Commerce department officials unveiled the proposals in a Thursday morning conference call with reporters. The regulation changes must go through a public comment process and could become policy by the end of 2018. Coincidentally, another set of ESA changes has been drafted into proposed legislation before Congress.

Both moves come as a new national survey shows strong support for the Endangered Species Act among four out of five Americans.

Read more . . .

Also read: Interior Department Proposes a Vast Reworking of the Endangered Species Act (NY Times)

Feds to seek Montana grizzly delisting this fall

Grizzly Bear Sow and cubs - NPS photo, Tim Rains
Grizzly Bear Sow and cubs – NPS photo, Tim Rains

The U.S. plans to propose removing Montana’s grizzlies from endangered species act protection this fall . . .

U.S. officials expect to release a proposal this fall that would remove federal protections for grizzly bears in northwestern Montana, home to the largest grizzly population in the Lower 48.

The plan was released Wednesday as part of the U.S. Interior Department’s regulatory agenda for coming months.

An estimated 1,000 bears occupy at least 22,000 square miles in northwestern Montana centered on Glacier National Park.

Read more . . .

Lynx delisting proposal triggers conflict

Canada lynx - USFWS
Canada lynx – USFWS

Here’s a pretty good, locally focused backgrounder on the USFWS proposal to delist the Canada Lynx. You’ll encounter several familiar names . . .

The new millennium brought a new challenge for Lorin Hicks.

For years, Hicks has worked as a wildlife biologist for Weyerhaeuser and its predecessor, Plum Creek Timber Co., studying the inhabitants of Northwest Montana’s sensitive forests.

He gained a new research focus in 2000, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Continental U.S. population segment of Canada lynx as a threatened species. That move required the agencies that manage area forests to take the lynx’s well-being into account.

Read more . . .

US FWS considering lynx delisting

Canada lynx sitting - US Fish and Wildlife Service
Canada lynx sitting – US Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering removing the Canada lynx from the threatened species list . . .

Wildlife officials in the United States declared Canada lynx recovered on Thursday [January 11] and said the snow-loving wild cats no longer need special protections following steps to preserve their habitat.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said it will begin drafting a rule to revoke the lynx’s threatened listing across the Lower 48 state under the Endangered Species Act. Wildlife advocates said they would challenge the move.

First imposed in 2000, the threatened designation has interrupted numerous logging and road building projects on federal lands, frustrating industry groups and Western lawmakers.

Read more . . .

Yellowstone grizzlies removed from threatened species list

Grizzly Bear - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Terry Tollefsbol, NPS
Grizzly Bear – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Terry Tollefsbol, NPS

Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem were officially removed from the threatened species list on July 31. Of course, there’s the matter of dealing with a number of lawsuits . . .

For the second time in a decade, the U.S. government has removed grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region from the threatened species list.

It will be up to the courts again to decide whether they stay off the list.

The decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove federal protections from the approximately 700 bears living across 19,000 square miles in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming took effect Monday.

Read more . . .

Also read: States taking over grizzly management Monday (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)

Ruling: No immediate endangered species protection for whitebark pine

Whitebark Pine Closeup, 2016 - W. K. Walker
Whitebark Pine Closeup, 2016 – W. K. Walker

Short version: There’s no money right now to pay for Endangered Species Act protection for whitebark pine . . .

An appeals court has ruled that U.S. government officials don’t have to take immediate action to protect a pine tree that is a source of food for threatened grizzly bears.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in its order Friday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ability to protect species through the federal Endangered Species Act is limited by “practical realities,” such as scarce funds and limited staff.

The whitebark pine is in decline amid threats of disease, the mountain pine beetle, wildfire and climate change.

Read more . . .

Court ruling reopens comment period on wolverine proposed listing rule

Wolverine on the rocks - USFWS
Wolverine on the rocks – USFWS

Three years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed listing the wolverine as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, but later reversed course. They got dragged into court over this action and, last April, a federal judge told them to act as quickly as possible to protect the species.

So… USFWS is now accepting comments on a proposed rule to list the wolverine as threatened. Here’s the meat of the official press release, which includes instructions on how to submit comments regarding the proposal. Note that the deadline is November 17, 2016 . . .

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is reopening the public comment period on a proposed rule to list the North American wolverine as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Service had proposed to list the North American wolverine, which is a Distinct Population Segment of wolverines found in the lower 48 states, but withdrew its proposal in 2014 after concluding that the factors affecting it were not as significant as were once thought.

However, the District Court for the District of Montana overturned the Service’s withdrawal, effectively returning the wolverine population to the point at which it was proposed for listing as threatened. A threatened listing would mean this wolverine population is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

The Service has considered the North American wolverine as proposed for listing since the April court decision. This Federal Register Notice is an administrative step to implement the court ruling.

The Service will be starting a new review on the wolverine population to determine whether it meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species, or if the animal is warranted for listing at all. Any decision on whether to list or not list the wolverine under the ESA will be based on the best scientific and commercial information available. We anticipate new climate change information will assist us in this decision.

The Service is asking for any scientific or commercial information on the North American wolverine population during the 30-day public comment period that closes November 17, 2016.

The proposed 2013 listing rule is available online at https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/wolverine.php. To submit comments on https://www.regulations.gov, search for Docket Number FWS–R6–ES–2016–0106, and click on “Comment Now!”

Or, you can mail comments to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2016–0106, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

The Service will post all information received on https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

Wolverines look like a small bear with a bushy tail, and each of its five toes is armed with curved, semi-retractile claws. In the lower 48 states, they live in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rocky Mountains, with occasional sightings in Colorado, California, and Nevada. Learn more at https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolverine/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/. Connect with our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/USFWSMountainPrairie, follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/USFWSMtnPrairie, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/.

Notice to sue filed over bull trout recovery plan

Bull Trout

As mentioned last week, the recent federal bull trout recovery plan is not universally admired, making a lawsuit almost inevitable . . .

A pair of environmental groups announced Wednesday they will sue the federal government unless a recovery plan for threatened bull trout is amended to address violations of the Endangered Species Act.

The groups, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan, filed the 60-day notice to sue a little more than a week after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife released its final Bull Trout Recovery Plan on Sept. 28.

A 60-day notice to sue under the ESA is required in order to provide enough information to the FWS so that it has the opportunity to identify and address alleged violations in order to make the plan sufficient.

Read more . . .

Bull trout recovery plan gets mixed reception

Bull Trout

The long-delayed federal bull trout recovery plan was released this week . . .

More than 15 years in the making, the final recovery plan for bull trout was released Monday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, although some environmentalists and biologists in Montana say it still falls short of providing an avenue to recover the threatened species.

Listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1999, bull trout populations in the continental U.S. have struggled throughout the past century, under pressure from invasive species, habitat degradation and warmer waters.

The warming effects from climate change are also expected to create further problems for the fish, which require clean, cold water to survive. Steve Duke, a senior biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said some current bull trout habitats will no longer be habitable if water temperatures continue to rise as projected. That’s one reason the plan language that allows up to 25 percent of the individual populations to disappear within four of the six geographically defined recovery units.

Read more . . .

Feds reject Endangered Species Act protection for greater sage grouse

Sage Grouse

The Interior Department decided not to give sage grouse Endangered Species Act protection . . .

The Interior Department said Tuesday that the greater sage grouse, a ground-dwelling bird whose vast range spans 11 Western states, does not need federal protections following a costly effort to reverse the species’ decline without reshaping the region’s economy.

The fight over whether to list the bird as endangered or threatened recalled the battle over the spotted owl 25 years ago, where federal protection greatly impeded the logging economy. The Obama administration and affected states have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to saving the species without Endangered Species Act protections that many argued would threaten the oil and gas industry and agriculture.

Tuesday’s announcement signaled that the Obama administration believes it has struck a delicate balance to save the birds from extinction without crippling the West’s economy. It also could help defuse a potential political liability for Democrats heading into the 2016 election; federal protections could have brought much more sweeping restrictions on oil and gas drilling, grazing and other human activities from California to the Dakotas.

Read more . . .

Also read: Shift in US firefighting prioritizes sage grouse in West (Missoulian)