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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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Follow the truth.

"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.

« FWS may list seven species of Hawaiian bees, the Honduran Emerald Hummingbird, and three Colorado plants | Main| FWS proposes critical habitat for four New Mexico wetland species and Missouri snail »

FWS rejects petition to list wolves in Northeast, proposes downlisting of Tulotoma Snail, considers least chub future listing candidate

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75 Fed. Reg. 32869 / Vol. 75, No. 111 / Thursday, June 10, 2010 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R5–ES–2010–0032 / 92220–1111–0000–C5
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List a Distinct Population Segment of the Gray Wolf in the Northeastern United States as Endangered

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in five northeastern States as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We find that the petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing a DPS of the gray wolf in Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine may be warranted. Therefore, we will not initiate a further status review in response to this petition. However, we ask the public to submit to us at any time, any new information that becomes available concerning the presence of the gray wolf in the northeastern United States, particularly information to substantiate the presence of breeding pairs. DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on June 10, 2010.

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According to the New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation, the history of wolves in New York is by no means clear.  Although it seems reasonable to assume that they were once present, it is also possible that coyotes were considered wolves by early settlers and that some portion of historic wolf accounts may have been attributed to the wrong species.  Furthermore, it is not clear that a wolf population could survive in New York given the abundance of highways and the state’s large human population. DEC does not believe that wolf restoration warrants serious consideration at this time. Image from New York State DEC.

EXCERPT: It is widely accepted that wolves became extirpated from the northeastern United States by the year 1900. As noted above, from 2000 to 2003, the Service reviewed the existing status of the wolf in the northeastern United States and found no reliable evidence of breeding pairs or wolves that had established territories. The petition lists information on eight wolves or wolf-like canids killed in the northeastern United States over a 40- year period from 1968 to 2007, and one additional animal in southern Quebec Province, Canada. The species’ identity and the origin of several of the animals remain uncertain, and available genetic data indicate that two of the wolves were likely the result of a domestic breeding. The 2002 occurrence of a wolf killed in southern Quebec Province was noted as the first confirmed record of a wolf south of the St. Lawrence River in over 100 years. The Service finds that this is strong evidence that wolf breeding pairs have not become established in southern Quebec Province, a forested and mixed agricultural landscape contiguous with forested habitats in Maine and New Hampshire. Statements by the petitioners that in 2005, ‘‘wildlife workers’’ were monitoring a wolf pack 20 miles north of the Vermont border in Quebec could not be verified, and no further reports of wolves in that area are known to the Service.

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75 Fed. Reg. 35424 / Vol. 75, No. 119 / Tuesday, June 22, 2010 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / FWS–R4–ES–2008–0119; 92220–1113-0000–C6 / RIN 1018–AX01
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Reclassification of the Tulotoma Snail From Endangered to Threatened

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to reclassify the tulotoma snail (Tulotoma magnifica) from endangered to threatened, under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This proposed action is based  on a review of the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicate that the endangered designation no longer correctly reflects the status of this snail. We have documented a substantial improvement in the species’ distribution and numbers over the past 15 years, including the discovery of several populations that were unknown when the species was listed. Minimum flows and other conservation measures have been implemented below two dams in the Coosa River, improving habitat and resulting in the expansion of tulotoma snail numbers and range in the Coosa River. The Alabama Clean Water Partnership has also developed the Lower Coosa River Basin Management Plan to address nonpoint source pollution and watershed management issues in most Coosa River tributaries occupied by the tulotoma snail. While great strides have been made to improve the species status, additional efforts are required to address the remaining threats to the species. We are seeking comments from the public on this proposal. DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before August 23, 2010.

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The tulotoma snail (Tulotoma magnifica) is a gill-breathing, operculate snail in the family Viviparidae. Operculate means that the snail has a rounded plate that seals the mouth of the shell while the snail is inside. The shell is globular, reaching a size somewhat larger than a golf ball, and typically ornamented with spiral lines of knob-like structures. Its adult size and ornamentation distinguish it from all other freshwater snails in the Coosa-Alabama River system.  Image from Wikipedia, more information from USFWS.

***

75 Fed. Reg. 35398 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 119 / Tuesday, June 22, 2010 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2008-0088 / MO 92210-0-0008-B2
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition to List the Least Chub as Threatened or Endangered

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12–month finding on a petition to list the least chub (Iotichthys phlegethontis), a fish, as threatened or endangered and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing the least chub as threatened or endangered under the Act is warranted. Currently, however, listing the least chub is precluded by higher priority actions to amend the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Upon publication of this 12-month petition finding, we will add the least chub to our list of candidate species with a listing priority number (LPN) of 7. We will develop a proposed rule to list this species as our priorities and funding allow. We will make any determination on critical habitat during development of the proposed listing rule. In the interim, we will address the status of the candidate taxon through our annual Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR).

LeastChub.jpg
The least chub is a small minnow, with a maximum size of less than 2.5 inches.  It is a colorful species with a gold stripe along blue sides with white to yellow fins.  The chub eats primarily algae and small invertebrates and is considered a slow-growing species that rarely lives beyond 3 years of age. Review of least chub historic population trends shows that the current distribution of the least chub is highly reduced from its historic range. In the late nineteenth century, least chub were very common in tributaries to Sevier, Utah, and the Great Salt Lakes and for the next 50 years, surveys demonstrated that this species was found across the Bonneville Basin in Utah, including Snake Valley. By the 1940s and 1950s, the numbers of least chub in range and abundance surveys were definitely decreasing with only 11 extant populations existing by 1979, and 3 extant wild populations known in 1995. UDWR surveys in the 1990s and 2000s discovered three new populations on the eastern extent of the historic range; however, one of these populations is functionally extirpated. The  Service now considers five extant, wild, viable populations to exist, with only three (all in Snake Valley) being considered secure from the effects of nonnative fish. Photo from FWS.

EXCERPT:  Under section 4(a)(1) of the Endangered Species Act, a species may be determined to be endangered or threatened based on any of the following five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence...  This status review found threats to the least chub related to Factors A, C, D, and E, as described in the following paragraphs and summarized in Table 4. We find that the best available information for Factor A indicates that listing the least chub as threatened or endangered under the Act is warranted due to the effects of livestock grazing and water withdrawal and diversions on the species and its habitat. Although the LCCAS and the UDWR have worked to protect least chub habitat with grazing enclosures where possible and grazing management plans in some areas, livestock-grazing-related impacts are still observed at most least chub sites. There is substantial evidence showing the negative effect of historical groundwater withdrawal on least chub. While uncertainty exists on the magnitude of effects to the least chub from proposed large-scale groundwater pumping, concern regarding the remaining five extant, wild populations is sufficient to indicate that the species is at risk of extinction in the foreseeable future, especially when combined with the threat of drought. We find that the best available information concerning Factor C (Predation) indicates that listing the least chub as threatened or endangered under the Act is warranted due to the continuing threat of nonnative species, particularly mosquitofish, for which there is no known means of control. Several significant efforts have been made to remove mosquitofish from least chub habitats, without success. The wild least chub population at Mona Springs is functionally extirpated due to mosquitofish, and nonnative fish are present at two of the five remaining viable populations. We find that the best available information concerning Factor D (Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms) indicates that the least chub is at risk of extinction in the foreseeable future due to inadequacy of existing regulations to regulate groundwater withdrawals and ameliorate their effects on least chub habitat. We find that the best available information concerning Factor E (Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence) indicates that the least chub is at risk of extinction in the foreseeable future because of the cumulative effects of drought, current and future groundwater withdrawal, and climate change on the remaining naturally occurring populations in Snake Valley.