FWS revisits finding on Bonneville cutthroat trout
73 Fed. Reg. 7236-7237 (Feb. 7, 2008) (12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the Bonneville Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki utah) as Threatened or Endangered)
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the opening of a public comment period regarding the status of the Bonneville cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki utah) throughout its range in the United States. The 12-month finding for this subspecies, published in the Federal Register on October 9, 2001, has been withdrawn by the Service (Stansell Memorandum, August 24, 2007) due to the subsequent development of a formal opinion (Department of the Interior, March 16, 2007) regarding the legal interpretation of the term ‘‘significant portion of the range’’ of a species. The status review will include analysis of whether any significant portion of the range of the Bonneville cutthroat trout warrants listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Through this action, we encourage all interested parties to provide us information regarding the status of, and any potential threats to, the Bonneville cutthroat trout throughout its range, or any significant portion of its range. To be fully considered for the 12- month finding, comments must be submitted on or before April 7, 2008.
Photo from USDA Forest Service
COMMENTARY: The term “significant portion of the range” has been increasingly the subject of federal litigation, leading the Department of Interior’s Solicitor’s Office to issue a legal opinion on the subject. In its prior 2001 finding, FWS elected not to list the species, concluding that “Although the numbers of extant BCT stocks are likely much lower than the historical number, they have increased by an order of magnitude or more in the past three decades. Based on information from early accounts of pioneer settlement and early descriptions of land-use and wildlife management, a noted decline in BCT populations occurred between 1850 and 1950. This decline was due to devastating impacts from land-use activities such as extensive water development, overharvest of fish through commercial industry, nonnative salmonid introductions, tie-hacking of timber, and improper livestock grazing. Although many of those threats have not been entirely eliminated, the devastating disregard for land and wildlife no longer occurs to the extent that it did between 1850 and 1950. In addition, most BCT populations are located on lands publicly owned and managed by the USFS, NPS, and BLM.” Notably, that prior analysis did not use the term “significant portion of the range” at all.