It's official: FWS publishes notice of brown pelican delisting
74 Fed. Reg. 59443-59472 (November 17, 2009) / Volume 74, Number 220 / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: Under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are removing the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife due to recovery. This action is based on a review of the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicate that the species is no longer in danger of extinction, or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. The brown pelican will remain protected under the provisions of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. DATES: The effective date of this rule is December 17, 2009.
For recent KEITHINKING on the pelican, see prior ESA musing, and for Excerpt...
As discussed above, the primary reason for severe declines in the brown pelican population in the United States, and for designating the species as endangered, was likely DDT contamination in the 1960s and early 1970s. Additionally, pesticides like dieldrin and endrin were also found to negatively impact brown pelicans. Since the banning of these organochlorine pesticides, brown pelican abundance within the United States has shown a dramatic recovery, and although annual reproductive success varies widely, populations have remained generally stable for at least 20 years. The EPA requires registration and testing of new pesticides to assess potential impacts on wildlife, so we do not anticipate that a pesticide that would adversely affect brown pelicans will be permitted in the future. Although DDT contamination continues to persist in the environment, based on the nesting population size, overall population stability, and improved reproductive success, the continued existence of brown pelicans is no longer threatened by exposure to DDT or its metabolites, and populations within the United States have recovered adequately to warrant delisting. We have no evidence that brown pelicans outside the United States ever declined in response to persistent organic pesticides.
Nesting and roosting colonies in the United States are expected to continue to be protected from human disturbance through local conservation measures, laws, numerous restoration plans, and ownership of many of the nesting and roosting habitats by conservation groups and local, State, and Federal agencies. In most countries outside of the United States where brown pelicans occur, protection is expected to continue through implementation of restoration plans, designated biosphere reserves and parks, and land ownership by conservation organizations and local, State, and Federal governments.
Some nesting and roosting habitat is expected to continue to be limited at certain local scales, just as some habitat destruction is expected to continue. However, the majority of nesting sites within the United States and many outside the United States are protected. While some nesting habitat may be lost, it is not likely to be a limiting factor in brown pelican reproductive success, since pelicans are broadly distributed and have the ability to shift breeding sites in response to changing habitat and prey abundance conditions. In response to storms, erosion, and lack of sedimentation, brown pelicans have exhibited their dispersal capabilities; they have established new colonies elsewhere, and shown an ability to rebound from low numbers. Additionally, there are several restoration activities, such as artificial island creation and enhancement with dredge material and barrier island restoration and protection that will continue to enhance and protect brown pelican habitat, particularly within the U.S. Gulf Coast region.
Impacts from weather events, such as El Ninos and severe freezes, are also expected to continue. Natural factors such as these may adversely affect pelican reproduction and survival on a short-term, localized basis, but alone pose only a minimal threat to the species at current population numbers.
Brown pelican prey abundance in the United States will continue to be monitored and managed in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. We do not have any information from outside of the United States on commercial fishery impacts to brown pelican prey abundance; however, based on population numbers, there is no reason to believe that commercial fisheries are currently limiting brown pelican reproductive success.
Brown pelicans are not threatened with overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes. Research on pelicans is generally observational and noninvasive. Although several diseases have been identified as a source of mortality for brown pelicans, they appear to be self-limiting and sporadic and are not likely to impact long-term population trends. Predation is a minor threat that occurs when disturbance to nesting colonies leaves eggs and chicks unprotected, making it essential that nesting colonies are protected from disturbance, as noted above.
Commercial and recreational fishing may adversely affect brown pelicans on a localized basis, but pose no rangewide threat to the continued existence of the species. Oil spills and oil pollution continue to be a potential threat, but the breeding range is large enough that a single spill, even a major one, would likely only affect a small fraction of the population. This threat has been alleviated in the United States to some degree by stringent regulations for extraction equipment and procedures, traffic separation schemes, shipping lanes that reduce the likelihood of collisions or spills, and improvements in oil spill response, containment, and cleanup. These measures reduce the probability of spills and also may reduce adverse impacts if a spill were to occur.