--> General questions species five-year reviews
North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Frequently Asked Questions ESA
Five-Year Species Status Reviews

Q1: What is a five-year review?

A1: A five-year review is an Endangered Species Act (ESA) mandated process which is conducted to ensure that the listing classification of a species as either threatened or endangered is still accurate. It is a verification process with a definitive outcome: either the review does or does not indicate a change in classification may be warranted. As the five-year review is not a rulemaking in and of itself, it provides a "recommendation" rather than a "determination."

Q2: Does it take five-years to do an assessment?

A2: The five-year status review looks back at least five-years in reviewing data and information, and it is a requirement under the Endangered Species Act that a status assessment be conducted at least every five years for federally-listed species. However, it will not take us five-years to complete.

There are generally no specific deadlines for completion of these 5-year status reviews.

Q3: Why conduct a five-year review of federally-listed species ?

A3: Research, monitoring programs and conservation actions have been carried out and are ongoing by Federal and non-Federal (State, private, tribal) entities. As a result, new information is constantly becoming available. Although this information has been made public since the time of listing and the Service has continued to use the best available information under its Endangered Species Act (ESA) responsibilities, the ESA requires this information be fully evaluated at least every five-years.

Q4: What information is considered in the review or being requested from the public?

A4: For these review, we are particularly interested in any new information and data which has become available since listing of the species. Categories of information include:

  • species biology , including but not limited to, population trends, distribution, abundance, demographics, and genetics;
  • habitat conditions , including but not limited to, amount, distribution, and suitability;
  • conservation measures that have been implemented that benefit the species;
  • threat status and trends ; and
  • other new information, data, or corrections , including but not limited to, taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, identification of erroneous information contained in the Listing, and improved analytical methods.

To be of greatest use to biologists and conservation managers conducting the review, information submitted should be supported by documentation such as maps, bibliographic references, methods used to gather and analyze the data, and/or copies of any pertinent publications, reports, or letters by knowledgeable sources.

Q5: What will happen as a result of these reviews?

A5: The Service will determine whether or not a change in the Federal classification of the listed species may be warranted. Our determination could include any one of the following recommendations:

  • reclassification of the species from endangered to threatened, or threartened to endangered;
  • that the species no longer needs protection and should be de-listed; or
  • that the classification should remain the same.

Any change to the federal classification of a listed species would require a separate rulemaking process.

Q6: If, as a result of the review, the Service determines that a change to a liisted species' status from endangered to threatened may be warranted, will such a change reduce the level of protection for the species?

A6: No, all current Federal conservation and protection measures would remain in force. A change (reclassification) to threatened status would be based on the best scientific and commercially available data and require a separate rulemaking process.

Q7: Will the public be given an opportunity to participate in any status change the Service might consider as a result of the review?

A7: Yes. Any change would require a separate formal rulemaking process, including ample opportunity for public review and comment. No change in classification would occur until the completion of that process. The status of listed species for which the status review was conducted would remain unchanged until we go through the formal rulemaking process.

Q8: How does the Service determine whether a species is endangered or threatened?

A8: The Endangered Species Act defines “endangered” as “…in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range…” whereas “threatened” is defined as “…is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range…”

Section 4(a)(1) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) establishes that we determine whether a species is endangered or threatened based on one or more of the five following factors:

  • The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
  • Over utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
  • Disease or predation;
  • The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
  • Other natural or man-made factors affecting its continued existence.

Section 4(a)(1) of the Act also requires that our determination be made on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.

Q9: When would the Service be able to remove a listed species from the Endangered Species List?

A9: A decision to de-list any species must be supported by the best scientific and commercial data available and only considered if such data substantiates that the species is neither endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following reasons: (1) the species is considered extinct; (2) the species is considered to be recovered; and/or (3) the original data available when the species was listed, or the interpretation of such data, were in error. Any change in Federal classification, including removal from the Federal endangered and threatened species list, would require a separate rulemaking process, including ample opportunity for public review and comment.

Q10: How can I stay current on these reviews and your other your conservation efforts?

A10: The most current information is available online at our web site: http://www.fws.gov/northflorida.

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Last updated: May 1, 2013