ESA news: up and down and litigation all around...
Another typical week of up-and-down and litigation-all-around news related to Endangered Species Act implementation:
ALASKA GOES ON OFFENSE. The Alaska Dispatch reports that the state has kicked off an "all-out fight with the feds" over alleged abuses of the Endangered Species Act. See Alaska Dispatch. In a formal petition, Alaska, Oregon and Washington State even asked for Steller's sea lions to be delisted. See Seattle Times. And with global climate change, Alaska has much at stake. As the Environment News Service explained, "Arctic Warms, Sea Ice Shrinks, Extinction Risk Grows," or as the New York Times put it, "Melting Ice Turns 10,000 Walruses Into Landlubbers."
BLUEFIN TUNA. The National Marine Fisheries Service's announcement that it was considering the listing of bluefin tuna pleased the Center for Biological Diversity who filed the petition to list the species, but the Maine Congressional delegation, including Senator Olympia Snowe, expressed concerns that American fishermen are bearing the cost for other countries' over-exploitation. See Maine Public Broadcasting Network. They have a point: Japan’s blue fin tuna imports alone account for three-fourths of the global trade in the highly prized fish. See IPSnews and the New Nation (from Bangladesh.
NORTHERN SPOTTED OWLS. Despite 20 years of forest protection, the Northern Spotted Owl remains a species in decline, says the Vancouver Sun. But in Oregon, a new Safe Harbor Agreement is in place. KTVZ.com Under its provisions, private forest landowners can manage their land for sustainable, profitable timber harvests while promoting habitat for the threatened northern spotted owl, and receive assurances protecting them fron future ESA enforcement activities, and compensating them for enrolling forests in permanent easements.
SPRAGUE's PIPIT. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's recent "warranted but precluded" decision on the Sprague's pipit earned publicity, but little support. “The Sprague’s pipit continues to plummet, with no rescue in sight from the federal government,” said Nicole Rosmarino, wildlife program director with the Colorado-based environment group WildEarth Guardians, to the Montreal Gazette.
OZARK HELLBENDER SALAMANDERS. The Ozark hellbender lives only in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. Once common in the Ozark Mountains' streams, the salamander reached up to 2 feet in length. See St. Louis Today. FWS has proposed the listing of the species, see Federal Register.
WOLVES. Wisconsin and Minnesota believe that the best available scientific information will eventually lead to the delisting of the wolf in the Great Lakes region. See Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. But with many people frustrated by the issue, and the neverending ineffectiveness of ongoing litigation, Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg is taking a different path: he proposed an ESA amendment to prohibit the “endangered” designation for Grey Wolves in Montana and Idaho. See NBC Montana.
LISTING AND DELISTING PETITIONS. The Sierra Nevada red fox could soon be the subject of a new CBD listing petition. "It looks like it may be an excellent candidate for listing," Lisa Belensky, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in an interview Tuesday. "We're considering it." See Miami Herald. The California Mountain yellow-legged frogs are probably not far behind in CBD's plans. See CBD. But elsewhere in the state, the Pacific Legal Foundation filed papers Thursday with FWS petitioning for the removal of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle from the federal endangered species list. See Sacramento Business Journal. While California received much of the petitioner's attention, a few other states have ESA debates emerging. The Center for Biological Diversity says the Bicknell's thrush needs protection due to climate change in its coniferous forest habitats in the Adirondacks, New England and eastern Canada. See Vermont Public Radio. CBD also filed petitions to list Coleman's coral root orchid, an Arizona plant species.
And last, but not least, a worthy read from Delmarva Media Group, an article by Wallace McKelvey about the endangered seabeach amaranth, a rare plant rediscovered, but still in dire straits, in Delaware.
Seabeach amaranth is wind and self pollinated. Seed production begins in July or August and reaches a peak in most years in September. Wind, water, and wildlife serve as seed dispersal mechanisms. The species is found on sandy, sparsely vegetated beaches between the high tide line and the toe of primary dunes. Seabeach amaranth populations are highly dynamic, with numbers of plants often fluctuating dramatically from one year to the next. Caption info and photo from Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. According to Helen Violi, an ecologist at the Assateague Island National Seashore, the plan serves as an umbrella species. "If you protect the amaranth, you also end up protecting many other species that are also endangered or threatened because of the sensitivity of that habitat." See Ecologists race to save beach plant