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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.

« MOU increases NOAA role in regulation of ocean energy | Main| Update: NOAA not listing goliath grouper or bluefin tuna, but proposes critical habitat for Hawaiian monk seal »

FWS downlists tolotoma snail, may list straighthorned markhor, Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly, and golden-winged warbler; adds critical habitat for Riverside Fairy shrimp; issues Molokai Plant Cluster recovery plan; and proposes prairie dog rule revisions.

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76 Fed. Reg. 31866 (Thursday, June 2, 2011) / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2008–0119; 92220–1113–0000–C6 / RIN 1018–AX01
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassification of the Tulotoma Snail From Endangered to Threatened
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), reclassify the tulotoma snail (Tulotoma magnifica) from endangered to threatened, under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This action is based on a review of the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicates that the endangered designation no longer correctly reflects the status of this snail.

TulotomaSnail.jpg
The tulotoma snail (Tulotoma magnifica), henceforth ‘‘tulotoma,’’ 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 spherical and can reach a size somewhat larger than a golf ball.  The tulotoma is found only in the State of Alabama. ItAt the time of listing in 1991, the tulotoma was known from five localized areas in the lower Coosa River drainage.  Since its listing in 1991, tulotoma populations have also been located at six additional locations: Three in the Coosa River drainage and three in the Alabama River.  Photo courtesy of Dennis DeVries from EncyclopediaOfAlabama.org

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76 Fed. Reg. 31903 (Thursday, June 2, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / FWS–R9–ES–2011–0003; MO 92210–1113F120–B6
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition to Reclassify the Straight-Horned Markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni) of Torghar Hills as Threatened
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of petition finding and initiation of status review.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to reclassify the Torghar Hills population of straighthorned markhor, or Suleiman markhor, (Capra falconeri jerdoni or C. f. megaceros) from endangered to threatened 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 reclassifying this subspecies of markhor in the Torghar Hills of Pakistan may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of the entire subspecies to determine if the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding the straighthorned markhor or the Torghar Hills population. 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.

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76 Fed. Reg. 31282 (Tuesday, May 31, 2011) / 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
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List Puerto Rican Harlequin Butterfly as Endangered
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of 12-month petition finding.
SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly (Atlanteatulita) as endangered and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. After reviewing all available scientific and commercial information, we find that the listing of the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly is warranted. Currently, however, listing the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly 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 Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly to our candidate species list. If an emergency situation develops with this species that warrants an emergency listing, we will act immediately to provide additional protection. We will develop a proposed rule to list the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly 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). DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on May 31, 2011.

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76 Fed. Reg. 31920 (Thursday, June 2, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2011–0028; MO 92210–0–0008
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Golden-Winged Warbler as Endangered or Threatened
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of petition finding and initiation of status review.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the goldenwinged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) 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 or commercial information indicating that listing the golden-winged warbler 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 golden-winged warbler 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, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as  provided in the Act.

goldenWingedWarbler.jpg
The golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) is a neotropical migrant (breeding in North America and wintering in Central and South America).  It is a small-sized passerine, weighing only 8.8 grams (g) (0.31 ounces (oz)). Total body length is 120.65 millimeters (mm) (4.75 inches (in)), with a wingspan of 190.5 mm (7.5 in). Diagnostic features include slate gray plumage on the chest, breast, nape and mantle, with  contrasting yellow patches on the upper wing coverts (sets of small feathers that cover the upper wing area) and crown. Golden-winged warblers breed across the north-central and eastern United States, expanding into southeastern Canada.  For breeding sites, the golden-winged warbler depends mostly on early successional habitats. These are habitats that have previously undergone an amount of disturbance by a natural or human-caused event that creates a structurally diverse landscape. These habitats can occur in upland or lowland areas.  Landscapes that consist of forest edge, shrubs, forests with open canopy, habitats with grassy openings, and wetlands with scattered trees can be viable nesting habitats.  Breeding sites have been documented in abandoned farmlands, powerline cuts, recently logged sites, and locations along stream borders.  Posted by Augie Orlandi, North Central Illinois Ornithological Society, Blog of the Rockford Bird Club.

EXCERPT: we find that the following may pose threats to the golden-winged warbler throughout all or a significant portion of its range, such that the petitioned action may be warranted: Habitat modification and loss of early successional habitat (Factor A); inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms (because existing regulations only provide protection from the sale or take of individuals at localized areas, rather than the entire range, and do not address habitat protection or conservation) (Factor D); and interactions with blue-winged warblers (Factor E). We determine that the information provided under Factors B (overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific or educational purposes) and C (disease or predation) is not substantial. Because we have found that the petition presents substantial information indicating that listing the golden-winged warbler may be warranted, we are initiating a status review to determine whether listing the golden-winged warbler under the Act is warranted.

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76 Fed. Reg. 31686 (Wednesday, June 1, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2011–0013; MO 92210–0–009 / RIN 1018–AX15
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Critical Habitat for the Riverside Fairy Shrimp
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to revise the currently designated critical habitat for the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus woottoni) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The current critical habitat consists of 306 acres (124 hectares) of land in four units in Ventura, Orange, and San Diego Counties, California. We now propose to designate approximately ,984 acres (1,208 hectares) of land in five units in Ventura, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties, California, which, if finalized as proposed, would result in an increase of approximately 2,678 acres (1,084 hectares) of critical habitat for this species.

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76 Fed. Reg. 31973 (Thursday, June 2, 2011) / Notices
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
FWS–R1–ES–2011–N009; 10120–1112–0000–XX
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Notice of Availability of Draft Recovery Plan for Phyllostegia hispida; Addendum to the Molokai Plant Cluster Recovery Plan
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of document availability for review and public comment.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of our draft recovery plan for Phyllostegia hispida under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This draft plan is an
addendum to the recovery plan for the Molokai Plant Cluster published in September of 1996. This plant species is endemic to the island of Molokai, Hawaii. We request review and comment on our plan from local, State, and Federal agencies and the public. We will also accept any new information on the species’ status throughout its range.

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76 Fed. Reg. 31906 (Thursday, June 2, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2011–0030; 92220–1113–0000–C6 / RIN 1018–AW02
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revising the Special Rule for the Utah Prairie Dog
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service,Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule.
SUMMARY: Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), we (the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service/USFWS)) are proposing to revise our special regulations for the conservation of the Utah prairie dog. We are proposing to revise the existing limits on take, and we also propose a new incidental take exemption for otherwise legal activities associated with standard agricultural practices. All other provisions of the special rule not relating to these amendments would remain unchanged. We seek comment from the public and other agencies, and welcome suggestions regarding the scope and implementation of the special rule. After the closing of the comment period, a draft environmental assessment will be prepared on our proposed actions.

BlackTailedPrairieDog.jpg
Overall, agricultural lands can provide valuable habitats for Utah prairie dogs. However, if the prairie dog populations become too dense, these same areas may be more prone to outbreaks of plague, a nonnative disease that occurs across the entire range of the Utah prairie dog and can extirpate entire colonies. The rate of the spread of plague is likely dependent in part on the density of the host (e.g., Utah prairie dog) population —populations with higher densities likely have higher plague transmission rates and higher rates of epizootic (rapidly spreading dieoff cycle) outbreaks. Thus, we conclude that, if left  unmanaged, the unnaturally high densities of Utah prairie dogs on some agricultural lands increase their susceptibility to plague outbreaks.  However, a new pague vaccine put in the food of Black-tailed prairie dogs shows significant promise in the laboratory. See photo and info from USGS.