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Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Critical Habitat for Two South Florida Cacti


January 21, 2015

A photo of an Aboriginal prickly apple with fruit

Photo: Aboriginal Prickly Apple. Credit: Dave Bender, USFWS.

VERO BEACH, FL. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on its proposal to designate critical habitat for the Florida semaphore cactus and the aboriginal prickly-apple under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Both plants were listed as endangered on November 25, 2013.

At the same time, the Service has prepared a draft economic analysis for the proposed critical habitat designations. The public is invited to submit comments on the proposed critical habitat designations and/or the draft economic analysis through a 60-day comment period ending March 23, 2015.

The proposed critical habitat designations for these two endangered cacti and the associated draft economic analysis are part of the Service’s efforts to implement a court-approved work plan under a Multi-District Listing Agreement aimed at addressing a series of lawsuits concerning the agency’s ESA listing program. The intent of the agreement is to significantly reduce a litigation-driven workload. For more information, please see fws.gov/southeast/candidateconservation/

Read the full release...
Two Florida Cacti: Questions and Answers

 

 


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Special Rule to Focus Protections for Northern Long-Eared Bat

Rule Would Apply if Species is Listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act


January 15, 2015

A map of the Northern long-eared bat and White nose syndrome range.

Northern long-eared bat and White nose syndrome range Map: USFWS

In response to the rapid and severe decline of the northern long-eared bat – a species important for crop pest control – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a special rule under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that would provide the maximum benefit to the species while limiting the regulatory burden on the public.

If finalized, the rule, under section 4(d) of the ESA, would apply only in the event the Service lists the bat as “threatened.” The Service’s proposal will appear in the Federal Register Jan. 16, 2015, opening a 60-day public comment period.

White-nose syndrome is having a devastating effect on the nation’s bat populations, which play a vital role in sustaining a healthy environment and save billions of dollars by controlling forest and agricultural pests,” said Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “We need to do what we can to make sure we are putting commonsense protections in place that support vulnerable bat species but are targeted to minimize impact on human activities. Through this proposed 4(d) rule, we are seeking public comment on how we can use the flexibilities inherent in the ESA to protect the bat and economic activity.”

Read the full release...
Proposed 4(d) Rule for the Northern Long-eared Bat: Questions and Answers

 

 


Draft Recovery Plan for Endangered Laurel dace Available for Review


January 14, 2015

A close-up image of a Laurel dace specimen

Laurel dace Photo: Conservation Fisheries International

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on the Technical/Agency Draft Recovery Plan for the laurel dace, a federally listed, endangered fish. Public comments will be accepted on this draft recovery plan until March 16, 2015.

Listed as endangered in 2011, the laurel dace is a small fish native to the Tennessee River Basin in Tennessee. The dace is found in three creek systems on the Walden Ridge of the Cumberland Plateau in Bledsoe, Rhea, and Sequatchie Counties. Historically, laurel dace were found in seven streams; but, now it is only found in six of the streams.

“The draft plan for laurel dace provides a road to recovery that the Service and its partners can take together,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “We are working closely with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute on several recovery efforts to benefit this fish, such as surveys and improvements to stream crossings.”

Read the full release...
Download the Draft Recovery Plan (PDF 930kb)

 

 


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces over $21 Million in Grants to Conserve Coastal Wetlands


January 7, 2015

A tidal wetland along the Altamaha River

Tidal wetland along the Altamaha River. Photo: Evangelio Gonzalez, Creative Commons.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced over $21 million will be provided to 25 projects in 13 coastal and Great Lakes states to protect, restore or enhance more than 11,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program.

State and local governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute over $35 million in additional funds to these projects, which include acquiring, restoring or enhancing coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish and wildlife and their habitats.

“Coastal wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world,” said Director Ashe. “The nation’s coastal resources provide resting, feeding and breeding habitat for 75 percent of waterfowl and other migratory birds, and nearly 45 percent of the nation’s endangered and threatened species are dependent on coastal habitats. Coastal wetlands also provide billions of dollars in ecosystem services through drinking water filtration, buffering against storms and flood control, as well as billions more to support local economies through outdoor recreation-related expenditures and jobs.”

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Service Initiates Status Review of Monarch Butterfly under the Endangered Species Act


December 29, 2014

A black and orange monarch butterfly with wings spread

A monarch butterfly. Photo: Tina Shaw, USFWS.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it will be conducting a status review of the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service has determined that a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Dr. Lincoln Brower to list a subspecies of monarch (Danaus plexippus plexippus) presents substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted. 

Monarch butterflies are found throughout the United States and some populations migrate vast distances across multiple generations each year. Many monarchs fly between the U.S., Mexico and Canada – a journey of over 3,000 miles. This journey has become more perilous for many monarchs because of threats along their migratory paths and on their breeding and wintering grounds. Threats include habitat loss – particularly the loss of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s sole food source – and mortality resulting from pesticide use. Monarch populations have declined significantly in recent years.

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Public Invited to Comment on Proposed Strategies to Protect Wintering Manatees at Three Sisters Springs


December 15, 2014

A map of manatee protections

Manatee protections map. Click for larger size. Map: USFWS.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to increase manatee protections and improve visitor experiences at Three Sisters Springs.

The Service seeks public review of a draft environmental assessment for management actions to protect manatees and still allow public access at Three Sisters Springs during the winter season.

“We have incorporated sound, professional judgment and safety considerations for manatees and people with this approach,” said Gude.  “Our goal is to protect manatees and also allow a quality wildlife viewing experience.”

Read the full release...
Questions and Answers (PDF)
Download the Appendix (PDF)

 

 


Ultralight-led Whooping Cranes Complete Fall Migration to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida


December 11, 2014

An ultralight aircraft with birds in a gray sky

Birds in flight over St. Marks. Photo: Terri Calleson, USFWS.

Early this morning, seven young whooping cranes following two ultralight aircraft during a two-month migration landed at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge where they will spend the winter.  They traveled 63 days and 1,100 miles from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin to St. Marks.

“After today’s destination flight lasting 50 minutes, our seven-month-old whooping cranes touched down for the first time on their new winter home,” said Heather Ray of Operation Migration.  “The birds trusted us. We had faith in them. We got it done. Once these birds undergo their final health check and receive permanent leg bands and transmitters in a week to 10 days they can be truly wild cranes - - wary of people and all things ‘human.’”

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Service Protects Red Knot as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act

Designation highlights concern over impacts of climate change, development across Americas


December 9, 2014

A small bird with long bill, rusty colored chest and speckled back

A red knot in Delaware Bay. Photo: USFWS.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced federal protection for the rufa subspecies of the red knot, a robin-sized shorebird, designating it as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A “threatened” designation means a species is at risk of becoming endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range.  

“The red knot is a remarkable and resilient bird known to migrate thousands of miles a year from the Canadian Arctic to the southern tip of South America,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Unfortunately, this hearty shorebird is no match for the widespread effects of emerging challenges like climate change and coastal development, coupled with the historic impacts of horseshoe crab overharvesting, which have sharply reduced its population in recent decades.”

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Seven Whooping Cranes Fly into Georgia Following Ultralight Aircraft


December 9, 2014

Countless birds on the water and in the sky above a blue lake

Whooping cranes follow an ultralight in Alabama on December 9, 2014. Photo: Heather Ray, Operation Migration.

Seven whooping cranes following pilots in two ultralight aircraft lifted off from Pike County, Alabama today and flew 117 miles before landing in Decatur County, Georgia.

It sounds very simple, but in reality is amazingly difficult.  Why?  Well it seems cranes just have minds of their own.  And if it’s cold, or the wind isn't right, they don’t just automatically follow these brave pilots dressed up like whooping cranes flying ultralight aircraft.  It’s like trying to herd cats.

Read the full release...

 

 

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Last updated: January 20, 2015