North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Frequently Asked Questions -
90-Day Substantial Finding on Petition
to Reclassify the U.S. Breeding Population of the
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana)
from Endangered to Threatened

Q1: What is a petition?

A1: A petition is a request filed underthe Endangered Species Act (Act) by an interested party asking that a species be listed on, delisted from, or reclassifiedon the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants or that critical habitat be revised for a listed species.

Q2: What is a 90-day Finding?

A2: Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires the Service to make a finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents substantial scientific or commercial information (see Q6 below for more information on this standard) indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. The Service bases this finding on information provided in the petition, supporting information submitted with the petition, and information otherwise available in our files. To the maximum extent practicable, the Service is to make this finding within 90 days of the receipt of the petition, and publish notice of this finding in the Federal Register.

Q3: Who petitioned the Service and what did they request?

A3: On May 28, 2009, the Service received a petition requesting that U.S. breeding population of the wood stork be reclassified from endangered to threatened under the Act. The petition was submitted by the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) and Biological Research Associates (BRA), on behalf of the Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA), and included as sole supporting information the Service’s recently completed 2007 Wood Stork Five-Year Review which recommended reclassification. On July 9, 2009, the Service sent a letter to the Pacific Legal Foundation informing them that the agency received the petition.

Q4: What area makes up the wood stork’s U.S. breeding population range?

A4: The wood stork’s U.S. breeding population range includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. That range has expanded to include portions of North Carolina and Mississippi.

Q5: What did the Service conclude as its 90-day finding?

A5: The Service found that the information provided in the petition,supporting information submitted with the petition, and information otherwise available in our files petition did provide substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that reclassifying the wood stork’s status under the Act may be warranted. This notice constitutes the initial finding on the petition.

Q6: What did the Service consider in reaching its conclusion and finding?

A6: In making this finding, the Service evaluated the information provided by the petitioners in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR): 50 CFR 424.14(b). The process of coming to a 90-day finding under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act and section 424.14(b) of regulations is limited to a determination of whether the information provided in the petition, supporting information submitted with the petition, and information otherwise available in Service files meets the “substantial information” threshold. The Service does not conduct additional research at this point, nor does the Service subject the petition to rigorous critical review.

Q7: What is the next step?

A7: The Service is initiating a status review to determine whether reclassification of the U.S. breeding population of wood storks is warranted. The results of the status review will be published as part of a 12-month finding.

Q8: Is there a difference between a 90-day finding and a 12-month finding?

A8: Yes. A 90-day finding is not a status assessment of the species and does not constitute a status review under the Act. A 90-day finding simply states that a petitioned action may be warranted. Our final determination of whether a petitioned action is warranted is not made until the Service has completed a thorough status review of the species as part of the 12-month finding on a petition, which is only conducted following a positive 90-day finding. A positive 90-day finding does not mean that the 12-month finding also will be positive.

Q9: What options does the Service have when making a status review determination for its 12-month finding?

A9: Based on the status review, the Service will make one of three possible findings:

(1) Reclassification is not warranted, in which case no further action will be taken. This finding will be published and the petitioner notified.

(2) Reclassification from endangered to threatened is warranted. In this case, the Service will publish a proposed rule, solicit scientific peer review, seek input from the public, and consider the input before a final decision about reclassifying the species is made.

(3) Reclassification is warranted but precluded by other, higher priority actions. This means the proposal to reclassify the woodstork is deferred while the Service works on listing, delisting, or reclassification proposed rules for other species.

Q10: If the Service determines reclassification is warranted is the species reclassified at that time?

A10: If the Service determines reclassification is warranted it may publish a proposed reclassification rule in conjunction with 12-month finding. Whether such an action is done simultaneously with the 12-month finding or at some later date, that formal rulemaking process will include ample opportunity for stakeholder and public comment.

Q11: Is the Service seeking information from the public for the status review?

A11: Yes; see next question for details. However, submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is a threatened or endangered species must be made “solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.”

Q12: What information is the Service seeking?

A12: The Service requests information from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, Native American Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning the status of the U.S. breeding population of wood storks and other populations of wood storks breeding in Central and South America. The Service is seeking information regarding:

(1) The historical and current status and distribution of the wood stork, its biology and ecology, and ongoing conservation measures for the species and its habitat;

(2) Information relevant to the factors that are the basis for determination of a species’ status under section 4(a) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), which are:

(a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;

(b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;

(c) Disease or predation;

(d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or

(e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.

(3) Information related to the genetics and taxonomy of the wood stork throughout its entire range, including the range of the federally listed U.S. breeding population of the wood stork; and

(4) Information related to whether any portion of the range should be considered for listing, for example, as a distinct population segment.

Please include sufficient information with your submission to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information or data you provide.

Q13: How do I submit information?

A13: You may submit information by one of the following methods:

  • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4- ES-2010-0067; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.

Please note that submissions by other means or to other offices may delay processing of those comments.

The Service will post all information received on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that theService will post any personal information that is provided (see the Information Solicited section of the Federal Register notice for more details).

In order to allow sufficient time for biologists to review and consider submitted information and conduct the review, submissions must be received on or before November 22, 2010.

Q14: Where can I find more information on current and future actions related to the wood stork?

A14: Information on the wood stork is available online at: http://www.fws.gov/northflorida

Bookmark and Share

Last updated: May 1, 2013