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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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FWS notices: no listing for Sacramento Valley tiger beetle; status review for dusky tree vole; revisiting grey wolf DPS

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73 Fed. Reg. 63421 (Friday, October 24, 2008) / DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service / 50 CFR Part 17 WS–R8–ES–2008–0112; MO 9221050083–B2/ Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Sacramento Valley Tiger Beetle as Endangered.

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Extensive survey efforts of areas with known populations and other areas with suitable habitat have been unable to locate any extant populations of the Sacramento Valley tiger beetle.  Photo of Cicindela hirticollis, not the now extinct subspecies Cicindela hirticollis abrupta from California State University Sacramento.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the Sacramento Valley tiger beetle (Cicindela hirticollis abrupta) as threatened or 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 Sacramento Valley tiger beetle may be warranted. Therefore, we will not be initiating a further status review in response to this petition. However, we ask the public to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the status of, or threats to, the Sacramento Valley tiger beetle or its habitat at any time.

KEITHINKING:  FWS declined to list the subspecies, because it concluded that it was, in fact, extinct.  "The most likely cause of the Sacramento Valley tiger beetle’s extinction is habitat change brought about by construction of Oroville and Shasta dams," FWS stated, further explaining that "Flow alterations established by these dams likely led to the gradual loss of finegrained shoreline habitat due to reduction of sediment transport, reduced variability in water flow, and resulting increases to vegetation growth along the water’s edge."  Some people will inevitably point to the failure to list the beetle as threatened or endangered as a contributing cause to its actual extinction; however, that argument begs the question of what could have been done differently, and whether even more changes to the dams (than already required due to the Delta smelt) would ever have been implemented.  An alternative view might be to look at this episode as a breakdown of the Endangered Species Act altogether.  Obviously, in its implementation of the statute, FWS is making decisions on priorities.  While people think of the ESA as protecting all species from extinction, the truth is that it can protect only the listed species that FWS (and NOAA) make priorities.  Eventually, Congress and the agencies should undertake the real debate on how those priorities are set...  sounds like a future topic for an ESA musing...

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73 Fed. Reg. 63919 (Tuesday, October 28, 2008) / DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service / 50 CFR Part 17 WS–R8–ES–2008–0086; 92210–5008–3922–10–B2 / Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Dusky Tree Vole (Arborimus longicaudus silvicola) as Threatened or Endangered / Notice of 90-day petition finding and initiation of status review.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the dusky tree vole (Arborimus longicaudus silvicola) in all of its range as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The petitioners also requested the Service to list either the north Oregon coast population of the red tree vole (A. longicaudus) as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) or the red tree vole throughout all of its range because it is threatened or endangered in a significant portion of its range, if we determined that the subspecies, A. l. silvicola, was not a valid taxon. We find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the dusky tree vole as a subspecies may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice we are initiating a status review of the species, including the evaluation of  the north Oregon coast population of red tree vole and the red tree vole throughout its range, and we will issue a 12-month finding on our determination as to whether the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding this species. We will make a determination on critical habitat for this species if, and when, we initiate a listing action.

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73 Fed. Reg. 63926-63932 (October 28, 2008) / DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR/ Fish and Wildlife Service / 50 CFR Part 17 / WS-R6-ES-2008-008; 92220-1113-0000; ABC Code: C6RIN 1018-AW37 / Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designating the Northern Rocky Mountain Population of Gray Wolf as a Distinct  Population Segment and Removing This Distinct Population Segment From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife / Proposed rule; reopening of comment period.

SUMMARY: On February 8, 2007, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), published a proposed rule to establish a distinct population segment (DPS) of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the Northern Rocky  Mountains (NRM) of the United States and to remove the gray wolf in the NRM DPS from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) (72 FR 6106). On February 27, 2008, we issued a final rule establishing and delisting the NRM gray wolf DPS (73 FR 10514). Several parties filed a lawsuit challenging our final rule and asking to have it enjoined. On July 18, 2008, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana enjoined the Service's implementation of the final delisting rule, see prior ESA blawg posting, after concluding that Plaintiffs were likely to prevail on merits of their claims. In light of this decision, we asked the court to vacate the final rule and remand it to us. On October 14, 2008, the court issued an order vacating our February 27, 2008, final rule (73 FR 10514) and remanding it back to the Service for further consideration.

We announce the reopening of the comment period for our February 8, 2007, proposed rule (72 FR 6106). We now intend to reconsider our 2007 proposed rule and issue a new listing determination. We seek information, data, and comments from the public regarding the 2007 proposal with an emphasis on new information relevant to this action, the issues raised by the Montana District Court (described in more detail below), and the issues raised by the September 29, 2008, ruling of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with respect to the Western Great Lakes gray wolf DPS (also described in more detail below). If you have previously submitted comments, please do not resubmit them because we have already incorporated them in the public record and will fully consider them in our final decision.