Incidental Take Statements
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services), proposed to amend regulations governing Incidental Take Statements (ITS) for endangered species.
An ITS is an estimate by the Services of the "take" of a threatened or endangered species that is likely to result from an action by a federal agency. "Take" means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. ITSs are produced by the Services as part of a biological opinion resulting from consultations with the federal agencies under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Services have found that in many cases, the biology of a listed species or the nature of the proposed action makes it difficult to detect or monitor the precise take of individual animals. In these cases, evaluating impacts to a "surrogate" may be the most reasonable and meaningful measure of assessing and monitoring take of listed species. The use of surrogates is a practical way to express the amount or extent of anticipated take in cases where the nature of the take-related impacts and the biology of the affected listed species make it difficult and costly to detect and accurately monitor.
Therefore, the Services are proposing to amend their regulations to codify the use of surrogates to express the likely extent of take and provide for the use of "Programmatic Incidental Take Statements" for ongoing or long-term federal actions.
These changes are meant to clarify the current policy of the Services related to the issuance of ITSs as part of a section 7 consultation. The changes will also allow for flexibility in how the Services prepare ITSs in situations where assessing and monitoring take of endangered and threatened species may be extremely difficult, time-consuming and expensive.
The Services anticipate finalizing the ITS policy in the spring of 2015.
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