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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

 

05-55  
Laura Romin 801-975-3330, x142
Sharon Rose 303-236-4580
August 3, 2005

 

WRIGHT FISHHOOK CACTUS IN WESTERN UTAH TO REMAIN AS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES UNDER THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT;
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE INITIATING STATUS REVIEW

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced that the Wright fishhook cactus remains listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

When first listed in 1979, five scattered cactus populations were known.  Since then, large scale surveys have shown increased range and distribution of the species.  However, overall the species is experiencing a population decline with fewer offspring surviving until they reach full maturity and reproductive age.  Such factors as cactus borer beetle predation, cattle trampling and crushing by off-road vehicles contribute to the loss of the plant.

The Service was petitioned by the National Wilderness Institute in 1997 to delist the Wright cactus due to “original data error.”  However, no data or new information was provided with this petition, as required, as rationale for a request to remove a species from the ESA list.  Present data available to the Service at this time indicates further decline of the Wright fishhook cactus.

As part of the Service’s effort to periodically review a species’ status, it is conducting a 5-year review nationwide on 10 percent of the listed species.  The Wright’s fishhook cactus is part of this year’s review.  A 60-day comment period, which closes October 3, 2005 is open for the public to provide any information they may have on the cactus.  Data, information, written comments and materials, or questions concerning this petition and finding should be submitted to the Field Supervisor, Utah Ecological Services Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2369 West Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley City, UT 84119, Attention: Wright’s Fishhook Cactus.

 “While our finding indicates that the petition presented no basis for removing this cactus from protections under the ESA, the Service remains committed to evaluating new information on listed species as it becomes available and to the ultimate recovery and delisting of the species,” said Ralph Morgenweck, director of the Service’s mountain-prairie region.

There are no State laws which afford protection to this species. 

When petitioned by an individual or an organization, under Section 4 of the ESA, the Service is required to make a finding within 90 days of receipt of the petition to the maximum extent practicable on whether the petition to list, delist or reclassify a species presents substantial scientific or commercial information, indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted.  However, until now, higher priority work has precluded the Service’s ability to act on this petition.

The Wright fishhook cactus is a small, barrel-shaped cactus with short central spines.  Mature adults produce vessel shaped, cream colored flowers with magenta filaments.  It is found in limited locations on National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, state and private lands at low elevation desert habitats in portions of Utah’s western Emery, southeastern Sevier, central Wayne and a small strip within Garfield Counties.   

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 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 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 and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
 

  - FWS -

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