FWS updates information for species on candidate list
73 Fed. Reg. 75176 / Vol. 73, No. 238 / Wednesday, December 10, 2008 / Department of the Interior; Fish and Wildlife Service; 50 CFR Part 17; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule
SUMMARY: In this Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), present an updated list of plant and animal species native to the United States that we regard as candidates for or have proposed for addition to the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. Identification of candidate species can assist environmental planning efforts by providing advance notice of potential listings, allowing landowners and resource managers to alleviate threats and thereby possibly remove the need to list species as endangered or threatened. Even if we subsequently list a candidate species, the early notice provided here could result in more options for species management and recovery by prompting candidate conservation measures to alleviate threats to the species. The CNOR summarizes the status and threats that we evaluated in order to determine that species qualify as candidates and to assign a listing priority number (LPN) to each species, or to remove species from candidate status. Additional material that we relied on is available in the Species Assessment and Listing Priority Assignment Forms (species assessment forms, previously called candidate forms) for each candidate species.
Overall, this CNOR recognizes 1 new candidate, changes the LPN for 11 candidates, and removes 2 species from candidate status. Combined with other decisions for individual species that were published separately from this CNOR in the past year, the current number of species that are candidates for listing is 251. This document also includes our findings on resubmitted petitions and describes our progress in revising the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants during the period September 30, 2007, through September 30, 2008. We request additional status information that may be available for the 251 candidate species identified in this CNOR. DATES: We will accept information on this Candidate Notice of Review at any time.
KEITHINKING: The candidate list is the one significant place where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes into account priorities when implementing the Endangered Species Act. Under this three-part priority ranking system, (1) threats to species are considered in magnitude as either “high” or “moderate to low”; (2) immediacy of threats are categorized as either “imminent” or “nonimminent”; and (3) three categories are created for taxonomic status: with (a) species that are the sole members of a genus; (b) full species (in a genus that has more than one species); and (c) subspecies, distinct population segments of vertebrate species, and species for which listing is appropriate in a significant portion of their range rather than their entire range. The result of the ranking system is that FWS assigns each candidate a listing priority number of 1 to 12.
This system has two important limitations. First, as FWS notes, it still results in lumping all the species together on the candidate list: “No matter which LPN we assign to a species, each species included in this notice as a candidate is one for which we have sufficient information to prepare a proposed rule to list it because it is in danger of extinction or likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” Second, it does not attempt to assign any value to one species over another based on biological characteristics or other traits. In other words, it does not matter whether a species is a plant that is in trial testing as a potential cure for cancer, nor a keystone species representative of an entire ecosystem that also creates habitat for dozens of other species. Either way, the ranking system assigns a 1 to 12 based on the individual status of the species, and all species struggle equally on the candidate list until FWS finds the money (or a court orders FWS) to list the species.