ESA news: from Florida to California, and from courtrooms to climate change
The Endangered Species Act repeatedly made Florida news this week. The Orlando Sentinel reports that despite concerns for listed sea turtle concerns (nevermind local budget shortfalls), coastal governments are considering lifting tolls on beach driving. And while automobiles are always a threat to the critically-endangered Florida panther, this week, news reports have focused on a reward offered related to a shooting death of the big Florida cat. See Tampa Bay Online. Elsewhere in central Florida, TheLedger.com reported that a new species of beetle was discovered by a retired biology professor in Polk County, and already the news is discussing a potential endangered listing for this species as an "an accident of biogeography."
Meanwhile, in the midwest, another beetle, already listed under the ESA, is still trying to find a home. The Ironton Tribune reported on the release of 300 pairs of the American burying beetle into The Wayne National Forest. Previously, in 2008, 250 pairs of beetles were introduced after rearing them at Ohio State University, The Wilds, and the St. Louis Zoo. Another good news story came from New Mexico, where the AP reported that local biologists helped threatened gila trout populations relocate to avoid area wildfires.
Courtrooms across the nation offered ESA news as well. In a settlement with Defenders of Wildlife and Center for Biological Diversity, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to reconsider denial of Endangered Species Act protection for the wolverine by 2010, says the Seattle Post Intelligencer. Wolverine photo above from The Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center. Climate change will be a major consideration for the wolverine, but concerns for climate change did not stop a separate group of environmentalists from "asking a federal judge to require the developer of a West Virginia wind farm to comply with the Endangered Species Act because of the potential harm to the endangered Indiana bat," says the Chicago Tribune and Charleston Gazette. Similar problems with wind power are arising in Oregon, reports the Capital Press, due to concerns over listed sage grouse populations.
Finally, California, as always, remained a hotbed of ESA activity. The Center for Biological Diversity remains opposed to the Habitat Conservation Plan being developed for Tejon Ranch (see prior ESA blawg) and filed a related FOIA request. In the Sacramento Delta, the California Farm Bureau is loudly protesting the impacts of the most recent biological opinion seeking to protect salmonids and smelt, but that did not prevent the filing of yet another Notice of Intent to sue the Federal Government for failing to deliver adequate water to fish, and especially salmonids. See IndyBay.org