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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.

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FWS announcements: Okaloosa Darter, Spring Pygmy Sunfish, Bearmouth Mountainsnail, Byrne Resort Mountainsnail, Meltwater Lednian Stonefly, and caribou

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76 Fed. Reg. 18087 (Friday, April 1, 2011) / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2008–0071; 92220–1113–0000–C6 / RIN 1018—AW95
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassification of the Okaloosa Darter From Endangered to Threatened and Special Rule
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are reclassifying the Okaloosa darter (Etheostoma okaloosae) from endangered to threatened under the authority of the Endangered Species  Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The endangered designation no longer correctly reflects the current status of this fish due to a substantial improvement in the species’ status. This action is based on a thorough review of the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicate a substantial reduction in threats to the species, a significant habitat restoration in most of the species’ range, and a stable or increasing trend of darters in all darter stream systems. We also establish a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act. This special rule allows Eglin Air Force Base to continue activities with a reduced regulatory burden and will provide a net benefit to the Okaloosa darter.

OkaloosaDarter.jpg
Okaloosa darters typically inhabit the margins of moderate- to fast-flowing streams where detritus, root mats, and vegetation are present.  Okaloosa darters feed primarily on fly larvae.  The Okaloosa darter population is stable or increasing and comprised of two plus age-classes in all six stream systems for 5 consecutive years, in part because (1) instream flows and historical habitat of stream systems have been protected through management plans, conservation agreements, easements, or acquisitions (or a combination of these); and (2) Eglin AFB has and is implementing an effective habitat restoration program to control erosion from roads, clay pits, and open ranges. Image from Brad's Pictures

EXCERPT: The Okaloosa darter was listed in 1973 as an endangered species. At the time of listing, the species faced significantly greater threats than it does today, as evidenced by the numerous recovery actions to date that have improved and restored its habitat conditions. These recovery actions include completing 95 percent of the erosion control projects identified in darter watersheds, thereby significantly reducing the most intense threat to the species (see the Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section below for further details). Now, more than 35 years after it was listed under the Act, the Okaloosa darter’s overall status has improved. Given that the threats to the species have been significantly reduced, we have determined that the Okaloosa darter has recovered to the point where it now meets the definition of a threatened species—one that is ‘‘likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.’’ In other words, although some threats to the Okaloosa darter continue to exist, these threats are not likely to cause the  species to become extinct throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the foreseeable future. Data collected on the distribution and abundance of the species indicate that the species’ range has expanded and overall population numbers are increasing.

KEITHINKING: Although the Okaloosa darter has met all five downlisting criteria in its recovery plan, FWS still emphasized, in its announcement, its authority to deviate from recovery criteria: "In the course of implementing conservation actions for a species, new information is often gained that requires recovery efforts to be modified accordingly. There are many paths to accomplishing recovery of a species, and recovery may be achieved without all criteria being fully met. For example, one or more recovery criteria may have been exceeded while other criteria may not have been accomplished, yet the Service may judge that, overall, the threats have been minimized sufficiently, and the species is robust enough, that the Service may reclassify the species from endangered to threatened or perhaps delist the  species. In other cases, recovery opportunities may have been recognized that were not known at the time the recovery plan was finalized. These opportunities may be used instead of methods identified in the recovery plan."

***

76 Fed. Reg. 18138 (Friday, April 1, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2010–0084; MO 92210–0–0008–B2
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Spring Pygmy
Sunfish as Endangered
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the spring pygmy sunfish (Elassoma alabamae) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find that the petition and information currently available in our files presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing this species may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of the species to determine if the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure 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, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.

***

76 Fed. Reg. 18684 (Tuesday, April 5, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2011–0016; MO 92210–0–0008–B2
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the Bearmouth
Mountainsnail, Byrne Resort Mountainsnail, and Meltwater Lednian Stonefly as Endangered or Threatened
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Bearmouth mountainsnail (Oreohelix species 3), Byrne Resort mountainsnail (Oreohelix species 31), and meltwater lednian stonefly (Lednia tumana) as endangered or threatened, 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 Bearmouth mountainsnail and the Byrne Resort mountainsnail is not warranted because neither constitutes a valid taxon; therefore, they are not considered to be listable entities under the Act. We find that listing of the meltwater lednian stonefly is warranted. However, currently listing of the meltwater lednian stonefly 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 meltwater lednian stonefly to our candidate species list. We will develop a proposed rule to list the meltwater lednian stonefly as our priorities allow. We will make any determination on critical habitat during development of the proposed listing rule. During any interim period, we will address the status of the candidate taxon through our annual Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR).
KEITHINKING: Another warranted but precluded.  Priorities, priorities, priorities…

***

76 Fed. Reg. 18701 (Tuesday, April 5, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / FWS–R9–ES–2010–0001; MO 92210–0–0010 B6
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Peary Caribou and Dolphin and Union Population of the Barren-Ground Caribou as Endangered or Threatened
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the Peary (Rangifer tarandus pearyi) and the Dolphin and Union population of the barren-ground (R. t. groenlandicus x pearyi) caribou as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of these two subspecies to determine if listing these two subspecies is warranted. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we request scientific and commercial data and other information regarding these two subspecies. At the conclusion of this 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.

caribouCA.jpg
The Dolphin and Union caribou primarily reside on the southern part of Victoria Island. Seasonally, they cross the frozen ice of the Dolphin and Union Strait to winter on the mainland. Their range consists of the lower part of Victoria Island.  A 1922 estimate indicated that between 100,000 and 200,000 caribou migrated across the Dolphin and Union Strait to Victoria Island. In 1973, both subspecies experienced a population crash due to freezing rain and sheets of ice, a 1980 survey indicated that there were approximately 3,400 Dolphin and Union caribou on Victoria Island, and a later surveys estimated the southern Victoria Island population to be 14,600 caribou in 1994 and 27,800 caribou in 1997. This herd does not appear to have been surveyed since then. A 2004 report indicates the population is estimated to be approximately 25,000 and the population appears to be stable or increasing. Image from Environment Canada.
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