Species of Concern
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Finding on Petition to List Cerulean Warbler
October 23, 2002
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it will expand its review of the status of the cerulean warbler, a small woodland bird, after reviewing a petition to list the warbler as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Service found the petition contained information indicating there may be a need to list the species.
The Service's finding initiates a further evaluation of the status of the cerulean warbler, a species which inhabits woodlands from the East Coast to the Mississippi River. During the evaluation, the Service will open a 90-day public comment period to allow the agency to receive information about the cerulean warbler from state, tribal, and other federal agencies, universities, scientists, and the general public. After reviewing available information, the Service will make a decision whether to propose the cerulean warbler as a threatened species.
The Service received the petition to list the cerulean warbler on October 31, 2000. The petition was signed by 28 organizations and was submitted to the Service through the Southern Environmental Law Center. The petition to list the cerulean warbler cited the species' declining populations primarily due to loss of woodland habitat. Under the Endangered Species Act, anyone may petition the Service to list a species as endangered or threatened and provide data supporting that recommendation. When a petition is received, the Service must make an initial finding on the substantiality of the petition; if this finding is positive, further review of the species' status begins. At the end of the review period, the Service must determine whether listing is warranted, not warranted, or warranted but precluded by listing actions for species with a higher priority for listing.
The cerulean warbler is a small woodland songbird that ranges across eastern North America from the eastern Great Plains, north to Minnesota, east to Massachusetts, and south to Louisiana. Named for the male's blue plumage, the cerulean warbler breeds primarily in the Ohio and Mississippi River basins and spends winter months in South America.
The Service has been reviewing the status of the cerulean warbler because, like many songbirds that migrate to neotropical areas, there is concern that its numbers are declining. A status assessment for the cerulean warbler was contracted by the Service and completed in April 2000; a follow-up effort further reviewed the threats to its habitat on public forest lands. This assessment and the subsequent threats review indicated that cerulean warbler populations are declining, but did not recommend elevating the species to candidate status for listing. With the review of the petition and this initial finding that the petitioned action may be warranted, the Service will expand its review of the species' status, this time also asking for information from the public to update the 2000 assessment.
The Service is seeking additional information from the public on the cerulean warbler and threats to its habitat. Information and comments may be submitted to Field Supervisor, Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 608 East Cherry Street, Room 200, Columbia, Missouri 65201. They may also be faxed to that office at 573-876-1914. To ensure their consideration, all comments and other information must be received by the close of the comment period on January 21. 2003. Information on the petition to list the cerulean warbler and the Service's 2000 status assessment is available on the Service's website at http://midwest.fws.gov/endangered/
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses nearly 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.