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Service Announces its 90-day Finding on Petitions to Reclassify the Florida Scrub-jay

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2006

Contacts:
Chuck Underwood, 904-232-2580 ext. 109




The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that petitions seeking to reclassify the Florida scrub-jay from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) did not present substantial information that reclassification may be warranted at this time.

“The 90-day finding does not express a view or opinion as to whether the Florida scrub-jay should be reclassified.” said Sam Hamilton, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “The finding simply determines whether or not the petitions provided substantial information to make further review justified. In this case, we determined the petitions to reclassify the species did not meet that requirement.”

The Service reviewed the petitions and literature cited in the petitions. Service officials noted that they will continue to monitor the species’ population status and trends, potential threats, and ongoing management actions.

“These key monitoring activities are important to the conservation of the Florida scrub-jay across its range,” said Dave Hankla, the Field Supervisor for the Service’s office in Jacksonville, FL. “We encourage interested parties to continue to assist with the conservation of the species.”

Under Section 4 of the ESA the Service is required to make a finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents substantial scientific or commercial information to indicate that the petitioned action may be warranted. The Service bases this finding on information provided in the petition.

On March 13, 2002, the Service received a petition from the Partnership for a Sustainable Future of Brevard County, Florida; Indian River Audubon Society; Friends of the Scrub; Sierra Club Turtle Coast Group; Conradina Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society; Sea Turtle Preservation Society; League of Women Voters of the Space Coast, Inc.; and Barrier Island Preservation Association, Inc. Another petition was received on May 1, 2003, from Save Our Big Scrub, Inc. Both petitions requested that: (1) the Service reclassify the Florida scrub-jay from threatened to endangered and (2) critical habitat be designated in accordance with section 4 of the ESA. However, funding constraints precluded the Service from initiating processing of these petitions in a timely manner.

The Florida scrub-jay is currently listed as a threatened species under the ESA. A threatened species is one that is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range, while an endangered species is one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or significant portion of its range.

In March 2004, the Service received a complaint from some of the petitioners regarding our alleged failure to carry out the 90-day and 12-month findings on the status of the Florida scrub-jay. The Service and plaintiffs reached a court-approved settlement agreement in December 2004, in which the Service agreed to submit its 90-day finding to the Federal Register by January 15, 2006 and to complete, if applicable, a 12-month finding by January 15, 2007.

The Federal Register notice announcing the Service’s 90-day finding, as well as a fact sheet and list of frequently asked questions, is available online at http://www.fws.gov/northflorida/Scrub-Jays/scrubjays.htm or may be requested by e-mail at floridascrubjay@fws.gov, by fax at 904/232-2404, by mail at U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attn: Florida Scrub-Jay 90-day Finding, 6620 Southpoint Drive South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, FL 32216-0958, or by telephone at 904/232-2580.

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.


For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://southeast.fws.gov/ or http://www.fws.gov/.



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