Coqui Llanero May Warrant Protection Under Endangered Species Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2009
The Caribbean tree frog, Coqui llanero, may warrant federal protection as a threatened or endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today, following an initial review of a petition from the Caribbean Primate Research Center, seeking to protect the Coqui llanero under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The Service will undertake a more thorough status review, of the species, known as a 12- month finding, to determine whether to propose adding the species to the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants.
Today’s decision, commonly known as a 90-day finding, is based on scientific information about the species provided in the petition requesting listing of the species under the Act. The petition finding does not mean that the Service has decided it is appropriate to give the Coqui llanero federal protection under the ESA. Rather, this finding is the first step in a long process that triggers a more thorough review of all the biological information available.
“We will be examining all available information about the species to determine if federal protection is needed,” said Edwin Muñiz, Field Supervisor of the Service’s Caribbean Ecological Services Office. “We encourage the public to participate in this process.” Comments must be received by September 8, 2009.
To ensure a comprehensive status review, the Service is seeking information regarding the species’ historical and current status and distribution, its biology and ecology, and habitat selection, as well as threats to the species and its habitat. The Service also is inquiring about ongoing conservation measures for the species and its habitat. Information also is sought on any possible effects of climate change, sea level change, and change in water temperatures on the distribution and abundance of the Coqui llanero.
Based on the status review, the Service will make one of three possible determinations:
- (1) Listing is not warranted, in which case no further action will be taken.
- (2) Listing as threatened or endangered is warranted. In this case, the Service will publish a proposal to list, solicit independent scientific peer review of the proposal, seek input from the public, and consider the input before a final decision about listing the species is made. In general, there is a one-year period between the time a species is proposed and the final decision.
- (3) Listing is warranted, but precluded by other, higher priority activities. This means the species is added to the federal list of candidate species, and the proposal to list is deferred while the Service works on listing proposals for other species that are at greater risk. A warranted but precluded finding requires subsequent annual reviews of the finding until a listing proposal is published, or a not warranted finding is made based on new information.
The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal to kill, harm, or otherwise "take" a listed species, or to possess, import, export or engage in interstate or international commerce of a listed species without authorization in the form of a permit from the Service. The Act also requires all federal agencies to minimize the impact of their activities on listed species, and directs the Service to work with federal agencies and other partners to develop and carry out recovery efforts for those species. Listing also focuses attention on the needs of the species, encouraging conservation efforts by other agencies (federal, state and local), conservation groups and other organizations and individuals.
The Coqui llanero is recently described as a new species and named after biologist Juan A. Rivero for his contributions to Puerto Rican reptiles and amphibians. The Coquí llanero is only known from a single location comprised of 180 hectares of seasonally flooded herbaceous wetland in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. The main vegetation on this wetland consists of the toothed midsorus fern, the willdenow’s maiden fern, bulltongue arrowhead, flat sedges, spike rushes, and vines and grasses. Most individuals were found perching and calling on the toothed midsorus fern and willdenow’s maiden fern. Reproduction, however, seems to only occur in the bulltongue arrowhead.
Written comments on the 90-day finding will be accepted until September 8, 2009, and should 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-R4-ES-2009-0022; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
For pictures and more information about the coqui llanero and this finding, please visit the Service’s web site at. www.fws.gov/caribbean/es/coquillanero.html.
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. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov or http://www.fws.gov/southeast.