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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.

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Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.

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Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

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Federal Register Announcements: Northern Sea Otter, Sacramento Splittail, Spreading Navarretia, Altamaha Spinymussel, Atlantic Sturgeon and North Atlantic Right Whale

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75 Fed. Reg. 62562 (Tuesday, October 12, 2010) / Notices
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
FWS–R7–ES–2010–N192; 70120–1113–0000–C4
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Notice of Availability of Draft Recovery Plan for the Southwest Alaska Distinct Population Segment of the Northern Sea Otter

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of our draft recovery plan for the southwest Alaska Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the northern sea otter (Enydra lutris kenyoni), listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Our recovery plan describes the status, current management, recovery objectives and criteria, and specific actions needed to enable us to delist the southwest Alaska DPS. We request review and comment on our plan from local, State, and Federal agencies and the public. We will also accept any new information on the species’ status throughout its range.

EXCERPT: The cause of the overall decline is not known with certainty, but the weight of evidence points to increased predation, most likely by the killer whale (Orcinus orca), as the most likely cause. Predation is therefore considered a threat to the recovery of this DPS, but other threats, including infectious disease, biotoxins, contaminants, oil spills, food limitation, disturbance, bycatch in fisheries, subsistence harvest,loss of habitat, and illegal take, are also considered in this recovery plan.

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75 Fed. Reg. 62089 (Thursday, October 7, 2010) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2010-0013 / MO 92210-0-0008-B2
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12–month Finding on a Petition to list the Sacramento Splittail as Endangered or Threatened

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 12–month finding on a petition to list the Sacramento splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus) as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing the Sacramento splittail is not warranted at this time
.
EXCERPT: The existing data fails to show a significant long term decline of the species. Natural fluctuations of population levels do not constitute an overall decline in the species, but rather show a pattern of successful spawning during wet years followed by reduced spawning during dry years. The model deployed in this finding simulates the species fluctuations and is compatible with known life history traits of the species. Population levels are directly  correlated with inundation of floodplains and simulation models predict that these habitats must flood at a minimum of every 7 years for the species to persist in sufficient numbers to maintain a robust population level. We have no evidence to show that the frequency of inundation events on floodplains will decrease to the point that these events will not be sufficient to maintain robust population levels...  Our review of the best available scientific and commercial information pertaining to the five threat factors, does not support a conclusion that there are independent or cumulative threats of sufficient imminence, intensity, or magnitude to indicate that the Sacramento splittail is in danger of extinction (endangered), or likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future (threatened), throughout its range.

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75 Fed. Reg. 62192 (Thursday, October 7, 2010) / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2009–0038 / MO 92210-0-0009 / RIN 1018–AW22

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Critical Habitat for Navarretia fossalis (Spreading Navarretia)

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), designate final revised critical habitat for Navarretia fossalis (spreading navarretia) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. In total, approximately 6,720 acres (ac) (2,720 hectares (ha)) of habitat in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego Counties, California, fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat designation. This final rule constitutes an overall increase of approximately 6,068 ac (2,456 ha) from the 2005 critical habitat designation for N. fossalis.

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75 Fed. Reg. 61664 (Wednesday, October 6, 2010) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2008-0107 / 92210 1111 0000-B2 / RIN 1018-AV88
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status for the Altamaha Spinymussel and Designation of Critical Habitat

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to list the Altamaha spinymussel (Elliptio spinosa), a freshwater mussel endemic to the Altamaha River drainage of southeastern Georgia, as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), and to designate approximately 240 kilometers (149 miles) of mainstem river channel as critical habitat in Appling, Ben Hill, Coffee, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Wayne, and Wheeler Counties, Georgia. This proposed rule, if made final, would implement the Federal protections provided by the Act.

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75 Fed. Reg. 61904 (Wednesday, October 6, 2010) / Proposed Rules
75 Fed. Reg. 61872 (Wednesday, October 6, 2010) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Part 224 / RIN 0648–XN50 / Docket No. 090219208–9210–01 and Docket No. 100903414–0414–02
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Listings for Two Distinct Population Segments of Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) in the Southeast

SUMMARY: In 2007, a Status Review Team (SRT) consisting of Federal biologists from NMFS, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) completed a status review report on Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) in the United States. We, NMFS, have reviewed this status review report and all other best available information to determine if listing Atlantic sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as either threatened or endangered is warranted. The SRT recommended that Atlantic sturgeon in the United States be divided into the following five distinct population segments (DPSs): Gulf of Maine; New York Bight; Chesapeake Bay; Carolina; and South Atlantic, and we agree with this DPS structure. After reviewing the available information on the Carolina and South Atlantic DPSs, the two DPSs located within the NMFS Southeast Region, we have determined that listing these two DPSs as endangered is warranted.  We have also determined that, for those DPSs that are located within the jurisdiction of NMFS’ Northeast Region, listing as threatened is warranted for the GOM DPS, and listing as endangered is warranted for the NYB DPS and CB DPS.

***

75 Fed. Reg. 61690 (Wednesday, October 6, 2010) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Part 226 / Docket No. 100924467–0467–02 / RIN 0648–XZ26
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Designating Critical Habitat for the Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale

SUMMARY: We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), announce our 90-day finding and 12-month determination on how to proceed with a petition to revise critical habitat for the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). The petition seeks to revise the existing critical habitat designation by expanding the areas designated as critical feeding and calving habitat areas for the North Atlantic right whale. Additionally, the petition seeks to include a migratory corridor as part of the critical habitat designation for the North Atlantic right whale. Our 90-day finding is that the petition, in conjunction with the information readily available in our files, presents substantial scientific information indicating that the requested revision may be warranted. Our 12-month determination on how to proceed with the petition is that we intend to continue our ongoing rulemaking process with the expectation that a proposed critical habitat rule for the North Atlantic right whale will be submitted to the Federal Register for publication in the second half of 2011.

RightWhaleDisentangledNOAA.jpg
The Center for Biological Diversity seeks to include expanded areas off the coast of New England and the Southeast United States, as well as new areas within the mid-Atlantic region, as critical habitat for the North Atlantic right whale. The petition contains information on the natural history, status, and threats to the North Atlantic right whale, including a 2008 evaluation of foraging habitat and of potential overwintering habitat in the Gulf of Maine, a 2007 NOAA Technical Memorandum detailing the results of a habitat model that evaluated the correlation between selected habitat features and right whale sightings in the southeastern U.S., sightings data from 1972 to 2000 provided in the 2008 ship speed rule, 73 Fed. Reg. 60173 (October 10, 2008), the Environmental Impact Statement for that rule, and separate analyses of North Atlantic right whale sightings data and migration to support the request for revising designated critical habitat to include a migratory corridor.  NOAA found that the petition presents substantial scientific information indicating that the requested revision may be warranted. Photo (#26 / #37) from NOAA Postcards from the Field June 2007, celebrating 200 Years of Science, Service and Stewardship.