FWS rejects petition to list the long-tailed duck, finding the species to be 'numerous and widespread'
73 Fed. Reg. 34686 (Wednesday, June 18, 2008)(DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Long-Tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) as Endangered.)
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We find that the petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the species may be warranted.
The long-tailed duck is a small to medium-sized sea duck, breeding in tundra and taiga regions around the globe, and with a worldwide population of more than seven million birds, this species may be the most abundant Arctic sea duck. The bird also has unique adaptations for its environment. Long-tailed ducks have the most complex molt of any waterfowl species, with three different plumages (basic, supplemental, and alternate) during the year; plumage is changing almost continuously. In addition, as a diurnal feeder, the long-tailed duck dives for food and has a highly variable diet of animal prey, focusing on locally abundant food items. Diving to depths greater than 60 meters (196.8 feet), it is probably the deepest diver among waterfowl. Photo by Arthur Grosset from USGS
ADDITIONAL EXCERPT: While the petitioner did not provide detailed information on the abundance or geographic distribution of the longtailed duck, information in Service files indicates that the long-tailed duck is currently numerous and widespread. Its breeding range has not contracted. The information provided in the petition on the potential impacts to the species caused by offshore oil exploration and development, removal of biomass due to fishing, and potential competition with nearshore marine aquaculture is inadequate to determine that these activities are destroying or modifying habitat in a manner and at a level that affects the species to such an extent that a reasonable person could conclude that listing may be warranted. Likewise, evidence in our files concerning hunting (both sport and subsistence), collecting by scientific institutions, and oil spill losses does not provide substantial information to support a conclusion that listing the species may be warranted. No data exist evaluating the relationship between long-tailed duck productivity, survival, or population trends and largescale climate patterns such as Pacific Decadal Oscillation. We also found the evidence in our files inadequate to corroborate the petitioner’s assertion that the MBTA may not be an effective regulatory mechanism, because under the MBTA, the harvest of long-tailed ducks is regulated and monitored. After reviewing and evaluating the petition and information available in our files, we find that the petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information to indicate that listing the long-tailed duck as endangered may be warranted at this time.
COMMENTARY: Unless contested and reversed in court, the FWS decision ends, for now, any further agency consideration of the listing of the long-tailed duck.