One week, one hundred species: catching up on recent FWS and NOAA announcements.
Sometimes, we all need to take a step back. And when I did, last week, I was amazed by the volume of recent announcements in the Federal Register related to ESA implementation. Interests groups may not agree with the decisions made by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but the past two weeks certainly serve as a good example of the Obama Administration's continued efforts, and the enormous amount of work required to process all the relevant (and sometimes irrelevant) information.
To begin with, in addition to correcting clerical errors in a prior announcement related to the Oregon chub, FWS announced a new final rule designating critical habitat for the Salt Creek tiger beetle (Cicindela nevadica lincolniana) with approximately 1,933 acres (ac) located in Lancaster and Saunders Counties, Nebraska. 75 Fed. Reg. 17466 (Tuesday, April 6, 2010). In addition, the Federal Register has been full of announcements by FWS and NOAA related to status reviews of many species:
- Roseate terns, 75 Fed. Reg. 17153 (Monday, April 5, 2010);
- Southern Resident killer whales, 75 Fed. Reg. 17377 (Tuesday, April 6, 2010);
- Spectacled eider, 75 Fed. Reg. 17760 (Wednesday, April 7, 2010);
- 69 species in Idaho, Washington, Hawaii, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, including Pomace flies, the pygmy rabbit, the Northern Idaho Ground Squirrel, the White Sturgeon, and many plants, 75 Fed. Reg. 17947 (Thursday, April 8, 2010);
- 10 Southeastern Species, including 7 endangered species (Mississippi sandhill crane, Alabama cavefish, Alabama lampmussel, pale lilliput, pondberry, green pitcher-plant, and Louisiana quillwort) and 3 threatened species (Gopher tortoise, yellow-blotched map turtle, and Mohr’s Barbara button), 75 Fed. Reg. 18233 (Friday, April 9, 2010);
- 15 Caribbean species, including numerous endangered plants and the white-necked crow. 75 Fed. Reg. 18232 (Friday, April 9, 2010);
According to Alaska Sea Life Center, "very little is known about eider sea ducks, and the spectacled eider (Somateria fischeri) is no exception... Inhabiting sub-arctic and arctic environments, spectacled eiders, like their cousins, live in some of the most remote and extreme environments on earth." In the past, FWS has suggested that "Causes of the decline of spectacled eiders are not well understood" and Alaska's Department of Fish and Game would agree: "Spectacled eiders have declined dramatically in Alaska since the 1960s. Causes for this decline are not known but may include some combination of reduced food supplies, pollution, overharvest, lead shot poisoning, increased predation, and other causes." Photo from FWS Alaska.
Add to the six status reviews above four more actions on pending species listing petitions, each in turn triggering more reviews:
- Listing of the Thorne’s hairstreak butterfly may be warranted, and initiating status reviews 75 Fed. Reg. 17062 (Monday, April 5, 2010);
- Listing of a stonefly and a mayfly was not warranted by information in petition, but soliciting additional information, 75 Fed. Reg. 17363 (Tuesday, April 6, 2010);
- Mountain whitefish in the Big Lost River not a listable entity, but encouraging new information on taxonomy, biology, ecology, and status, 75 Fed. Reg. 17352 (Tuesday, April 6, 2010); and
- Reclassifying the delta smelt from threatened to an endangered species is warranted, but precluded by other higher priority listing actions, but encouraging additional comments and information,75 Fed. Reg. 17667 (Wednesday, April 7, 2010).
It was a busy week for the biologists. And the bloggers.
P.S. For a worthwhile link with photos of the white necked crow and more, visit Miguel A. Landestoy (aka Hispanioland) at Flickr. The white-necked crow is the largest (17–18 inches in length) of the four Caribbean crow species. Now found principally on the large island of Hispaniola that comprises the countries of Dominican Republic and Haiti, it was also found on Puerto Rico but is now considered to be extinct on that island since the early 20th Century due to considerable forest clearance and hunting.