News Release

Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Addition of Penguin Species to Endangered Species List

December 17, 2008

Contact:

Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220
Website: https://www.fws.gov/external-affairs/public-affairs/



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list one penguin species as endangered and five penguin species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also found that three species of penguins do not warrant listing throughout their range and is proposing listing one species as threatened in a significant portion of its range.

The penguin species recommended for endangered status is the African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), of South Africa and Namibia. After conducting a status review, information available to the Service indicates that the African penguin is in serious decline throughout its range due to competition with commercial fishing, prey declines, predation, and oil pollution.

The five species recommended for threatened status are: the yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), the white-flippered penguin (Eudyptula minor albosignata), the Fiordland crested penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus), the erect-crested penguin (Eudyptes sclateri), all from New Zealand, as well as the Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) of Chile and Peru.

Threats to these penguin species include commercial fishing, competition for prey, habitat loss, disease, and predation. The Service also considered information on longer term climate change impacts to these species.

The Service is proposing to list the Southern Rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) at three groups off the coast of New Zealand. Based on information available, the Service found that this species has suffered declines in a significant area of its range, related to apparent changes in prey abundance, but in other areas of the species range populations are stable or increasing and that listing was not warranted in those areas.

The Service is seeking additional information on established and potential threats to these species during the 60-day public comment period.

The Service also found that Endangered Species Act protection is not warranted for the following three penguin species:

  • The emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri), with range restricted to Antarctica, was found to have stable populations. Review of the best available scientific information found no significant threats to the current survival of the emperor penguin and little or no evidence of current directional climate change impacts on its habitat. While such change may occur in the future, existing predictive models are not sufficiently advanced to allow reliable forecasting of possible changes to emperor penguin habitat over the next 100 years. The Service does not have sufficient scientific information to conclude that in the foreseeable future, the habitat of the emperor penguin will be altered to the point where the species is threatened with extinction.
  • The Northern Rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi), populations were found to be stable in most areas, with moderate declines in one portion of the population.
  • The macaroni penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus), is perhaps the most numerous penguin species. While declines linked to changes in prey abundance and competition with seal species have been reported at South Georgia Island, this remains an area of high macaroni penguin abundance.

Listing of penguins under the Endangered Species Act would make import or export of specimens of these species without an ESA permit illegal. Such permits are issued only if an activity has a conservation benefit and it is hoped listing may help focus international attention on the species? conservation needs.

During the 60-day public comment period, the Service is soliciting scientific and commercial information regarding the penguins proposed for protection under the ESA, including;

  • Information on population taxonomy, distribution, habitat selection and trends (especially breeding and foraging habitats) diet, population abundance and trends including current recruitment data;
  • Information on effects of climate change and changing ocean, land or sea ice conditions on the distribution and abundance of these penguin species and their principal prey species over the short and long term (especially information on known prey substitutions and their effects on the penguins);
  • Information on the effects of other potential threat factors, including commercial fishing activities, contaminants, habitat loss, harvest, predation by other animals, and diseases of these species or their principal prey over the short and long term;
  • Information on management programs for penguin conservation, including mitigation measures related to conservation programs, fisheries management, and any other private, tribal, or governmental conservation programs which benefit these species, and;
  • Information concerning whether any populations of the species may qualify as distinct population segments and comments on the appropriate conservation status for the species proposed.

In addition, the Service will undertake a peer-review process to review the findings for the species proposed for listing.

The Service welcomes new information concerning the status and threats to the species not proposed to assist in monitoring the conservation status of these other penguin species.

Public comments on the proposed rule may be submitted by one of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal:http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R9-IA-2008-0068 (for African penguin); Attn: FWS-R9-IA-2008-0069 (for Southern rockhopper penguin, Campbell Plateau portion of its range); or FWS-R9-IA-2008-0118 (for yellow-eyed penguin, white-flippered penguin, Fiordland crested penguin, erect-crested penguin, and Humboldt penguin); Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203.

The Service cannot accept email or faxes. All comments received will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that the agency will post any personal information that may be provided.

The Services finding on these penguin species was made in response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity received on November 29, 2006.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.