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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.

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"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.

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Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

« Final FWS decisions: Critical Habitat for Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly, Listing Not Warranted for Susan’s Purse-making Caddisfly | Main| NOAA lists three distinct population segments of rockfish »

FWS responds to petitions, may list Mohave Ground Squirrel and Harlequin Butterfly; also issues errata on Mountain whitefish

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75 Fed. Reg. 22063 / Vol. 75, No. 80 / Tuesday, April 27, 2010 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / FWS-R8-ES-2010-0006 / MO 92210-0-0008 B2
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90–day Finding on a Petition to List the Mohave Ground Squirrel as Endangered with Critical Habitat

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90–day finding on a petition to list the Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the Mohave ground squirrel may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a status review of the species to determine if listing the species is warranted. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding this species. Based on the status review, we will issue a 12–month finding on the petition ... DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct this review, we request that we receive information on or before June 28, 2010.

MohaveGroundSquirrel.jpg
The Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis) is a distinct, full species with no recognized subspecies. The presumed historical range of the species, based on the current range and historical locations of suitable habitat, is the northwest portion of the Mojave Desert. Mohave ground squirrels are diurnal; they spend much of the day above ground. As temperatures increase into the spring and early summer, Mohave ground squirrels will spend more time in the shade of shrubs or briefly use their burrows. Burrows are usually located beneath large shrubs. Mohave ground squirrels may use several burrows at night throughout a season; they also use other burrows for predator avoidance and temperature regulation. Photo from Department of Public Works, County of San Bernardino, California

EXCERPT: In summary, the petitioners presented information regarding threats to the Mohave ground squirrel from reduced range and habitat destruction, including: urban and rural development on private and public lands; agricultural development; military activities; livestock grazing; transportation; and energy development. We found the petition and information in our files presents substantial information that these activities may have contributed to a recent range contraction in the southern portion of the Mohave ground squirrel’s range, and may threaten the Mohave ground squirrel across its current range by removing shrubs needed for cover and forage, disturbing soil, or removing or degrading other habitat features necessary for Mohave ground squirrel life history requirements. Additionally, one or more of these activities may threaten what the petitioners identify as ‘‘core areas’’ for the Mohave ground squirrel by removing habitat, fragmenting the habitat, and preventing dispersal among the ‘‘core areas.’’ However, we determined the petition does not present substantial information indicating that climate change may be a threat to the species. Additionally, information on the subject of climate change in our files is not specific to the Mohave ground squirrel. We will evaluate the effects of climate change, including reduced precipitation and any cumulative effects of habitat fragmentation or loss on the Mohave ground squirrel, when we conduct our status review.

***

75 Fed. Reg. 21568 / Vol. 75, No. 79 / Monday, April 26, 2010 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2010-0026 / MO 92210-0-0008-B2
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition to List the Harlequin Butterfly as Endangered

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90–day finding on a petition to list the harlequin butterfly (Atlantea tulita), a butterfly endemic to Puerto Rico, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, and to designate critical habitat. Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the harlequin butterfly may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of the species to determine if listing the harlequin butterfly is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding this species. Based on the status review, we will issue a 12–month finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act. DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct this review, we request that you send us your information on or before June 25, 2010.

EXCERPT: The harlequin butterfly has only been observed utilizing the prickly bush (Oplonia spinosa) as its host plant (plant used for laying eggs and serves as a food source for the development of larvae). Currently, the harlequin butterfly is only known from one small colony in the municipality of Quebradillas, at the northern karst region of Puerto Rico. Based on the information provided by the petitioner, census tracts yield no more than 50 adults on a given date. Larva counts are estimated to be around 10-100 per census day.

***

75 Fed. Reg. 20974 / Vol. 75, No. 77 / Thursday, April 22, 2010 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / FWS–R1–ES–2009–0043; MO 92210–0–0008 / B2
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the Mountain Whitefish in the Big Lost River, Idaho, as Endangered or Threatened; Correction
EXCERPT: Our finding published in the Federal Register on April 6, 2010, but two figures were omitted from the document. We now provide those two figures.