Latest Scientific Review is Good News for Delmarva Fox Squirrel!
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has completed a scientific review of all available information about the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel, more commonly called the Delmarva fox squirrel, which has been on the List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife as endangered since 1967. The review concludes that the squirrel is recovered and recommends proposing to remove it from the list. The Service will begin working on this proposal.
The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to use the best available scientific and commercial data to conduct a review of each threatened and endangered species every five years. This review ensures the accuracy of the species’ classification as threatened or endangered. The Service’s analysis of the best available data concludes that the fox squirrel’s abundance and distribution is sufficient to withstand current and future threats. In addition, populations have enough suitable habitat to continue expansion and movement between populations. The overall abundance and range-wide distribution of the species makes it resilient to losses that might occur from sea level rise or any other threats.
The Service’s 2007 five-year review concluded that the Delmarva fox squirrel was near recovery and recommended that it be reclassified to threatened. However, the review acknowledged that new information on habitat availability based on LiDAR data was becoming available and could indicate recovery, so it recommended that reclassification rulemaking wait until the new information was analyzed. The 2012 five-year review includes that new information and has concluded that delisting is warranted.
Establishing new populations through translocations and overall growth of the range-wide population primarily reduced the risk of extinction and contributed to its recovery. Closing the Delmarva fox squirrel hunting season after listing also reduced mortality and probably enabled populations in some areas to rebuild.
There are several steps involved in proposing to remove a species from the List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife. The public and peer reviewers will be able to comment on the proposed rule and a post-delisting monitoring plan through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Announcement of the availability of these documents will be made on Service websites.
The proposed rule will summarize the reasons the Service considers the species ready for delisting; and a post-delisting monitoring plan will outline how the Service and partners will ensure that a species delisted due to recovery will remain secure from the risk of extinction once Endangered Species Act protections no longer apply. Depending upon the information received during the peer review and public comment period, the process from proposed rule to final determination may take about one year to complete.
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