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

« FWS announces 5 year reviews for 28 listed southwestern species. | Main| Climate Change and ESA in new law review article »

FWS considering listing of the coaster brook trout in Great Lakes region

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73 Fed. Reg. 14,950 (March 20, 2008 ) (Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the U.S. Population of Coaster Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) as Endangered.)

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), concerning the petition to list as endangered a population of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) known as coaster brook trout throughout its known historic range in the conterminous United States. We find that the petition contains substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the U.S. population of coaster brook trout may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a status review of the coaster brook trout. At the conclusion of the status review, we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition. To ensure that the status review of the coaster brook trout is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information regarding the coaster brook trout throughout its range. We will make a determination on critical habitat for this species if we initiate a listing action. DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before May 19, 2008. We must receive requests for public hearings, by May 5, 2008.

CoasterYoungMichiganDNR.JPG
Photo of juvenile coaster brook trout from Michigan DNR

RESOURCES:
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources article
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service resource page
  • Sierra Club informationon the coaster brook trout, including ESA listing petition

Looking for other excerpts from the Federal Register?...

Species Information
Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are a member of the char genus in the family Salmonidae; they live in welloxygenated streams, rivers, and lakes of northeastern North America (Scott and Crossman 1973, pp. 30, 213). Some brook trout populations are adfluvial or anadromous, migrating from lakes and oceans (respectively) into tributary streams for feeding and spawning (Lake Superior Brook Trout Subcommittee 1997, pp. 4–5; Ryther 1997, pp. 1–34). Coaster brook trout are a life history form of brook trout that spend a portion of their life cycle in the Great Lakes (Becker 1983, p. 320). These brook trout are known as ‘‘coasters’’ because they spend part of their life cycle along the coast of a lake. Some coaster brook trout subpopulations or runs are adfluvial and migrate from Lake Superior to tributary streams to spawn; other coaster brook trout subpopulations are lacustrine and remain in Lake Superior throughout their life cycle (Quinlan 1999, p. 15). Coaster brook trout mature later, live longer, and grow larger than stream resident brook trout (Becker 1983, p. 318; Lake Superior Brook Trout Subcommittee 1997, p.10).

Discreteness analysis
Information in our files or otherwise readily available to us supports the statement that the coaster brook trout described in the petition (in the Salmon Trout River and on Isle Royale) are separated from coaster brook trout subpopulations in the Nipigon River area and elsewhere in Canada by an international boundary, and in addition, this information indicates that the boundary delimits differences in control of exploitation and regulatory mechanism...

Significance analysis
The coaster brook trout described in the petition (in the Salmon Trout River and on Isle Royale) are the last remaining lake-dwelling brook trout in Lake Superior (Newman et. al. 2003, p. 39); thus if the coaster subpopulations in the Salmon Trout River and on Isle Royale disappear, lake-dwelling brook trout would be extirpated throughout the U.S. waters of the Great Lakes.

DPS Conclusion
Based on our evaluation... we conclude that the petition and information readily available to us do present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the U.S. population of coaster brook trout may be discrete and significant within the meaning of our DPS policy, and therefore may constitute a DPS.

Findings (on threats analysis)
As described above, the petition presents evidence of siltation in the Salmon Trout River that indicates the present or threatened destruction or modification or curtailment of the habitat or range of coaster brook trout, with impact to fish reproduction, respiration, and feeding (Waters 1995, pp. 79–118). The petition also presents information regarding population size, which indicates the small number estimated to remain poses a risk to the continued survival of the petitioned population of coaster brook trout. We find that the petition presents substantial information to indicate that the petitioned action may be warranted, based on threats posed by siltation and small population size. Therefore, we are initiating a status review of coaster brook trout to determine whether listing the species under the Act is warranted.