Two Louisiana Whooping Cranes Found Dead in Southeast Texas
January 14, 2016 – Two whooping cranes that were part of an experimental population in Louisiana were found dead in southeast Texas in Jefferson County on Monday (Jan. 11). These birds, a male and female, were almost two years old and were part of a group being introduced in an effort to establish a self-sustaining population in Louisiana that now numbers 44.
Although originally released in Louisiana at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WLWCA) near Gueydan, the two whooping cranes, along with two other birds from Louisiana, had been in southeast Texas for more than eight months. The deaths of the cranes are being investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Service Announces Draft Methodology for Prioritizing Endangered Species Act Status Reviews
Sprague's Pipit, a canidate for ESA listing
January 14, 2016 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a draft methodology to better identify and prioritize pending Endangered Species Act (ESA) "status reviews," the process by which the Service determines whether a species that has been petitioned for listing warrants ESA protection. The methodology will assist the Service and its partners in addressing America's most imperiled wildlife and plant species first, while reinforcing collaboration between the Service and its partners and maximizing transparency throughout the decision-making process.
"This methodology will help us strategically prioritize work on Endangered Species Act listing petitions to ensure the most urgent wildlife needs are addressed first, while also providing a common sense and defensible path to address all petitions," said Dan Ashe, Service Director. "The methodology will help us provide greater certainty and transparency to our partners through subsequent development of a publicly available, strategic workplan that reflects our work priorities."
Protections Finalized for Threatened Northern Long-Eared Bats
Northern Long-Eared Bat
January 13, 2016 – In an effort to conserve the northern long-eared bat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a final rule today that uses flexibilities under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to tailor protections to areas affected by white-nose syndrome during the bat's most sensitive life stages. The rule is designed to protect the bat while minimizing regulatory requirements for landowners, land managers, government agencies and others within the species' range.
"The overwhelming threat to the northern long-eared bat is white-nose syndrome," said Service Director Dan Ashe. "Until there is a solution to the white-nose syndrome crisis, the outlook for this bat will not improve. This rule tailors regulatory protections in a way that makes sense and focuses protections where they will make a difference for the bat."
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Reclassify West Indian Manatee from Endangered to Threatened
West Indian Manatee
January 7, 2016 – As a result of significant improvements in its population and habitat conditions, and reductions in direct threats, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that the West Indian manatee is proposed to be downlisted from endangered to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposal to downlist the manatee to threatened will not affect federal protections currently afforded by the ESA, and the Service remains committed to conservation actions to fully recover manatee populations.
The ESA defines an endangered species as one currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and a threatened species as one that is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. Given its review of the best scientific and commercial information available, including analyses of threats and populations, the Service proposes that the West Indian manatee no longer falls within the ESA's definition of endangered and should be reclassified as threatened. The Service will publish its proposal in the Federal Register tomorrow, beginning a 90-day comment period in which the public is invited to submit scientific or technical information that will aid the agency in reaching its final decision.
Eleven Juvenile Whooping Cranes Added to Louisiana's Experimental Population
Whooping Cranes Arriving At Airport
December 4, 2015 – Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) biologists received a sixth cohort of juvenile whooping cranes at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) near Gueydan on Thursday, Dec. 3. The 11 young cranes add to the state's resident population established through an LDWF species restoration project.
With the addition of the eight females and three males, Louisiana's whooping crane population increases to 46.
Endangered Species Act Protection Not Needed for 10 Species in the Southeast
Credit: Greg Thompson USFWS
October 7, 2015 – The Cumberland arrow darter, Shawnee darter, Sequatchie caddisfly, American eel, and six Tennessee cave beetles do not need protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – upon reviewing the status of these 10 species – found their status to be stable, and in some cases much better than expected. The Service's close partnership with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency were crucial to this positive announcement.
Service Launches Strategic Plan for Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program
Gulf Sturgeon Sampling
Credit: Haile Macurdy USFWS
September 15, 2015 – Many conservation challenges face the nation's fish and aquatic resources, including habitat loss and fragmentation, introduction and establishment of invasive species, and climate change. Today the Service announced a new strategic plan for its Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program that will address these challenges while providing guidance for the Program's annual operations for the next five years.
Recovery Plan for Endangered Dusky Gopher Frog Available
Dusky Gopher Frog
Credit: John Tupy
September 9, 2015 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing the availability of the final recovery plan for the dusky gopher frog, federally listed as endangered.
The dusky gopher frog, a stocky frog with a loud, guttural call, is heard less often now in the longleaf pine forests of Mississippi. Once also found in Louisiana and Alabama, now it is only found in four locations in Harrison and Jackson counties in southern Mississippi.
NFWF Announces $4.6 Million in Funding for Restoration of Longleaf Pine Forest and Ecosystem Across the Southeast
June 30, 2015 – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $4.6 million in grants to support the longleaf ecosystem and advance the objectives of the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine. Funding was awarded to 22 projects across the historic longleaf range that ultimately will restore more than 11,600 acres and enhance more than 163,000 additional acres of longleaf pine habitat, while leveraging over $6.4 million in additional funds from grant partners.
The grants are administered by NFWF's Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a landmark public-private partnership that includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and private funding from Southern Company, International Paper's Forestland Stewards Initiative and Altria Group. The fund, now in its fourth year, combines the financial and technical resources of the partnership to accelerate restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem and implementation of the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine as part of America's Longleaf Restoration Initiative.
Secretary Jewell, Governor Jindal Announce Proposal to Remove Louisiana Black Bear from Endangered Species List
LA Black Bear
Credit: Pam McIlhenny
May 20, 2015 – Thanks to a highly successful public-private partnership spanning more than two decades, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove the Louisiana black bear – the inspiration for the "Teddy Bear" – from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
"The Louisiana black bear symbolizes how the Endangered Species Act can be a remarkably effective tool to protect and recover threatened and endangered species when we work in close partnership with states and other stakeholders," Jewell said. "Across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, we have worked together with our partners to protect and restore habitat, reintroduce populations and reduce the threats to the bear. Today's recovery of the bear is yet another success story of the Endangered Species Act."
The Endangered Species Act has been a critical safety net for imperiled plants and wildlife for more than four decades, preventing more than 99 percent of the species listed from going extinct. In addition, the Act has helped to move many species from the brink of extinction to the path to recovery, including the American alligator, Florida panther, bald eagle, brown pelican and gray whale. The Obama Administration has removed from the endangered species list due to recovery more species than any prior administration.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Protects Northern Long-eared Bat Under ESA, also Issues Interim Special 4(d) Rule
Northern Long-eared Bat
April 1, 2015 - The Service announced today it is protecting the northern long-eared bat as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, primarily due to the threat posed by white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has devastated many bat populations. At the same time, the Service issued an interim 4(d) rule that eliminates unnecessary regulatory requirements for landowners, land managers, government agencies and others in the range of the northern long-eared bat.
The Service, states, federal agencies, tribes, conservation organizations and scientific institutions are working together as part of a national response team to address white-nose syndrome through disease monitoring and management, conservation and outreach.
Successful Conservation Efforts Along Florida, Pacific Coasts Recognized in Revised ESA Listing of the Green Sea Turtle
Green Sea Turtle
March 20, 2015 - Today NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed reclassifying the green sea turtle under the Endangered Species Act.The proposal involves reclassifying green sea turtles into 11 Distinct Population Segments globally. This will ensure continued protections for all green sea turtles, while providing a more tailored approach for managers in addressing the specific threats that face each population. Following years of coordinated efforts in Florida and along the Pacific Coast in Mexico, nesting green sea turtle numbers have increased, leading to a recommended threatened status instead of endangered for those populations.
Service Protects Red Knot as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act
A tagged rufa red knot in Mispillion Harbor, DE
December 9, 2014 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced federal protection for the rufa subspecies of the red knot, a robin-sized shorebird, designating it as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A "threatened" designation means a species is at risk of becoming endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
"The red knot is a remarkable and resilient bird known to migrate thousands of miles a year from the Canadian Arctic to the southern tip of South America," said Service Director Dan Ashe. "Unfortunately, this hearty shorebird is no match for the widespread effects of emerging challenges like climate change and coastal development, coupled with the historic impacts of horseshoe crab overharvesting, which have sharply reduced its population in recent decades."
Population Viability and Connectivity of the Louisiana Black Bear (Ursus americanus luteolus)
La Black Bear
November 19, 2014 – In 1992, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) granted Ursus americanus luteolus (Louisiana black bear) threatened status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973, listing loss and fragmentation of habitat as the primary threats. A study was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the University of Tennessee, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the USFWS to estimate demographic rates and genetic structure of Louisiana black bear populations; evaluate relations between environmental and anthropogenic factors and demographic, genetic, and movement characteristics of Louisiana black bear populations; and develop data-driven stochastic population projection models to assess long-term persistence of individual subpopulations and the overall black bear population in Louisiana.
Data were collected with non-invasive DNA sampling, live capture, winter den visits, and radio monitoring from 2002 to 2012 in the four areas supporting breeding subpopulations in Louisiana: Tensas River Basin (TRB), Upper Atchafalaya River Basin (UARB), Lower Atchafalaya River Basin (LARB), and Three Rivers Complex (TRC). Bears were live trapped and radio collared in the TRB and TRC to estimate survival and reproductive rates, deterministic matrix models were used to estimate asymptotic growth rates, and stochastic population models were used to estimate long-term viability. DNA extracted from hair collected at baited, barbed-wire enclosures in the TRB, UARB, and LARB and capture-mark-recapture (CMR) analysis based on Bayesian hierarchical modeling methods were used to estimate apparent survival (φ), per capita recruitment (γ), abundance (N), realized growth rate (λ), and long-term viability.
Great News - Identification of the Host Fish for A Threatened Freshwater Mussel Species in Louisiana!
Tony Brady from the Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery (NNFH) has identified the host fish, or shall we say fishes, for the federally threatened Louisiana pearlshell mussel! In collaboration with personnel from the Louisiana Ecological Services Office (LESO), the US Forest Service, the University of New Orleans (UNO) and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) -Natural Heritage Program, Tony has finally answered the 23-year-old host fish question, first posed in the 1990 Louisiana Pearlshell Mussel Recovery Plan. Since 2011, Tony has been infesting potential host fish species with larval mussels (glochidia) from Louisiana pearlshell females at the NNFH. In partnership with LDWF's Hatcheries Department, he moved the host fish trials to the state-owned Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery in 2014 because the hatchery's water source closely matches that of the mussel's home streams. In March 2014, Tony and personnel from the LESO and UNO gathered potential host fish from Louisiana pearlshell mussel streams and transported them to Booker Fowler, where fish were separated into tanks by species and cared for by hatchery staff. Later that month, Tony returned to the streams and collected four gravid Louisiana pearlshell mussels, which were held for four days at Booker Fowler until the mussels naturally released their glochidia. The glochidia were then used to infest 13 different fish species, and the adult mussels were returned to their natural streams. In April 2014, success was realized when the newly metamorphosed Louisiana pearlshell mussels (transformers) dropped off their host fishes and were collected from the tanks! In this study, the redspot darter was found to be the primary host fish for the species. Redfin shiners, striped shiners, creek chubsuckers, and bluegill and long-ear sunfish all served as successful secondary host fishes for the Louisiana pearlshell mussel. In discovering this information, we have met an important recovery goal that will allow for the pursuit and realization of future recovery goals that are contingent upon knowing the host fish species. Thanks to the successful research and collaboration among many partners, we are truly making great strides in the recovery of the threatened Louisiana pearlshell mussel!
New Policy Proposed to Benefit At-Risk Wildlife, Provide Credits to Landowners Taking Voluntary Conservation Actions Promotes Preemptive Conservation Efforts for Species That May One Day Be Listed Under ESA
Southern Idaho Ground Squirrel
Credit: Dennis Mackey, USFWS
July 17, 2014 - The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service announces a draft policy on crediting voluntary conservation actions taken for species prior to their listing under the Endangered Species Act. The proposed policy seeks to give landowners, government agencies, and others incentives to carry out voluntary conservation actions for nonlisted species by allowing the benefits to the species from a voluntary conservation action undertaken prior to listing under the Act to be used – either by the person who undertook such action or by a third party – to mitigate or to serve as a compensatory measure for the detrimental effects of another action undertaken after listing. This policy will help us further our efforts to protect native species and conserve the ecosystems on which they depend.
NOAA, FWS Establish Critical Habitat for Loggerhead Sea Turtles in Northwest Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Credit: Molly Martin, USFWS
July 9, 2014 - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) and the Department of Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) today announced two final rules to designate critical habitat for the threatened loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) in the Atlantic Ocean and on coastal beach habitat along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
The NOAA-designated marine critical habitat includes some nearshore reproductive areas directly off of nesting beaches from North Carolina through Mississippi, winter habitat in North Carolina, breeding habitat in Florida, constricted migratory corridors in North Carolina and Florida, and Sargassum habitat, which is home to the majority of juvenile turtles, in the western Gulf of Mexico and in U.S. waters within the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean.