FWS says listing of Wyoming pocket gopher not warranted
75 Fed. Reg. 19592 / Vol. 75, No. 72 / Thursday, April 15, 2010 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2008-0127 / MO 92210-0-0008-B2
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition to List the Wyoming Pocket Gopher as Endangered or Threatened with Critical Habitat
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of 12–month petition finding.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12–month finding on a petition to list the Wyoming pocket gopher (Thomomys clusius) as endangered or threatened and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing the Wyoming pocket gopher as either endangered or threatened is not warranted at this time. We ask the public to continue to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the status of, or threats to, the Wyoming pocket gopher or its habitat.
Pocket gophers are powerfully built mammals, characterized by a heavily muscled head without a noticeable neck, strong front limbs with long nails used for digging, small ears, small eyes, and fur-lined cheek pouches used to carry food. They are highly fossorial (adapted to burrowing or digging), living, foraging, and reproducing in burrow systems and underground tunnels that provide protection from predators and from extreme environmental conditions. On August 9, 2007, FWS received a petition from the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and Center for Native Ecosystems requesting that it list the Wyoming pocket gopher (Thomomys clusius) within its known historic range, as threatened or endangered under the Act. The range of the Wyoming pocket gopher has experienced and will continue to experience significant changes, primarily related to oil, gas, and wind development. The range is also likely to experience some changes related to climate change. However, according to FWS, the species continues to occupy its known historic range despite habitat alterations that have occurred within that range, and FWS has no evidence of population declines. Caption info from FWS announcement, photo from FWS.
EXCERPT: Our review of the best available scientific and commercial information pertaining to the five factors does not support the assertion that there are threats of sufficient imminence, intensity, or magnitude to indicate the Wyoming pocket gopher is in danger of extinction (endangered), or is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future (threatened), throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Therefore, we find that listing the Wyoming pocket gopher throughout all or a significant portion of its range is not warranted at this time. In making this finding, we recognize that the Wyoming pocket gopher, despite not being warranted for listing as endangered or threatened, may benefit from increased management emphasis due to its limited distribution and range. In particular, future oil, gas, and wind development may have positive or negative impacts to the species and should be carefully considered and monitored. We recommend precautionary measures be taken to protect the species, and that additional research be pursued to improve the understanding of the species so that the responses to future potential threats can be better understood.