U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Consultation on an Endangered Species

All Federal agencies are required to work to conserve endangered and threatened species and to use their authorities to further the purposes of the ESA. Section 7 of the ESA ("Interagency Cooperation") is the mechanism by which Federal agencies ensure the actions they take, including those they fund or authorize, do not jeopardize the existence of any listed species or adversely modify critical habitat. Under this section, all Federal agencies also have a responsibility to carry out programs for the conservation of endangered and threatened species.  Private individuals are affected by section 7 only when there is a federal nexus, e.g., they are receiving a Federal permit or funding.

To learn more, download the Consultations fact sheet or watch a Section 7 Consultation Slideshow. For a map and more information on endangered species in southcentral and southwestern Alaska, please see our consultation map and additional information.

How does the Consultation process work?

Informal Consultation

Under Section 7, Federal agencies must consult with the USFWS when any action the agency carries out, funds, or permits may affect a listed endangered or threatened species. This process usually begins as an “informal” consultation. Namely, the Federal agency, in the early stages of project planning, requests informal consultation with the USFWS. Discussions include which listed species occur in the proposed action area, and what effect the proposed action may have on those species.

If the Federal agency, after discussions with the USFWS, determines that the proposed action is not likely to affect any listed species in the project area, and if the USFWS concurs, the informal consultation is complete and the proposed project moves ahead. If it appears that the agency’s action may affect a listed species, that agency may then prepare a biological assessment to assist in determining the impact of the project on the species.

Formal Consultation 

When a Federal agency determines, through a biological assessment or other review, that its action is likely to adversely affect a listed species or its critical habitat, it submits a request for formal consultation to the USFWS. During formal consultation, the USFWS and the action agency share information about the proposed project and the species and critical habitat(s) likely to be affected. We have up to 90 days once we receive all pertinent information to determine whether the proposed activity will jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or destroy/adversely modify its critical habitat. However, this period may be extended for complex, large-scale projects.  We then have 45 days after completion of formal consultation to write the biological opinion. 

In making a determination on whether an action will jeopardize the species existence, the Service begins by looking at the current status of the species, or baseline. Added to the baseline are the various effects – direct, indirect, interrelated, and interdependent – of the proposed Federal action. The Service also examines the cumulative effects of other non-Federal actions that may occur in the action area, including state, tribal, local, or private activities that are reasonably certain to occur in the project area.

What does “jeopardize” mean?

Under the ESA, “to jeopardize” means to engage in an action that reasonably would be expected, directly or indirectly, to reduce appreciably the likelihood of both the survival and recovery of a listed species in the wild by reducing the reproduction, numbers, or distribution of that species.

Helpful Links

Our priority is to make implementation of the ESA less complex, less contentious, and more effective!

Index to Alaska’s Biological Opinions


Effects of the Halibut Fisheries in Waters off Alaska on the Endangered Short-tailed Albatross (Phoebastria albatrus), 2018

Kigigak Island, Surrogate Hen Pilot Study 2016

Re-issuance of the Alaska Sealife Center Recovery Permit and Letter of Authorization 2016

Aleutian shield fem, 2016 Atka Island Field Survey 2016

Effects of the Fishery Management Plans for the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fisheries and the State of Alaska Parallel Groundfish Fisheries

Alaska Federal/State Preparedness Plan for Response to Oil & Hazardous Substance Discharges/Releases 2015

Renewal of Scientific Research Permit MA041309 2013

Renewal of Scientific Research Permit PRT067925 2013

Diamond Point Granite Quarry 2012

Akutan Airport and Transportation Plan Reinitiation 2011

Alaska's Revised Mixing Zones Policy 2011

Akutan Airport and Transportation Plan Reinitiation 2010

Akutan Harbor Improvements Second Amendment 2009

Goodnews Bay Salmon Processing Plant 2008

Akutan Airport and Transportation Plan 2007

Little South America - South Harbor Construction, Unalaska 2007

Savoonga Windfarm 2005

Effects of 3-D Seismic Surveys in the Nearshore Waters of Lower Cook Inlet, Alaska 2003

Effects of the Total Allowable Catch-Setting Process for the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fisheries to the Endangered Short-tailed Albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) and Threatened Steller's Eider (Polysticta stelleri) 2003

Nelson Lagoon Bulk Fuel Facility 2003

Chignik Bay Bulk Fuel Storage Upgrade 2002

Chignik Bay Dock 2002

Construction of a New Addition to the Harbor, Sandpoint, Alaska 2001

Amchitka Island Remedial/Removal Action 2001

Chignik Lagoon Bulk Fuel Storage Facility 2001

Harbor Construction, False Pass Alaska 2000

Pacific Halibut Fisheries in Waters Off Alaska, 1998


Subsistence Regulations 2016

Programmatic BO for Wetland Impacts on the North Slope 2016-2017

BLM Summer Programmatic 2016

NSF - ITEX AON Permafrost Research - Barrow and Atqasuk

Barrow Airport M&O Facility and North Apron Expansion

Beaufort Sea Incidental Take Regulations 2016-2021

NSF - Permafrost Research near Barrow and Atqasuk, Alaska

BLM - GMT1 Development in NPR-A

Umiaq - East Barrow Shareholder Lot Roads Project

BLM - Summer Programmatic 2015

USACE - CPAI Mine Site C

NSF - Research Sustaining and Amplifying the ITEX AON

Reaffirmation of Lease Sale 193 2015

Subsistence Regulations 2015

Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment 2014

Programmatic BO for Wetland Impacts on the North Slope 2014-2015

USAF Remediation Programmatic 2014-2024

Arctic LCC funded shorebird studies near Barrow, Alaska 2014

BLM summer programmatic, 2014

Re-initiation of Section 7 consultation for Kogotpak Landfill FUD remediation project, 2014

ABR Permit for North Slope 2014

Barrow Eider Study Amendment 2014

Subsistence Regulations 2014

Nuiqsut Spur Road

CPAI DS-2 Development

Oooguruk Modifications, 2014-2015

BLM Summer Programmatic, 2013

Programmatic 5-year BO for Polar Bear and Pacific Walrus Deterrence LOAs, 2014

National Petroleum Reserve 2013

Subsistence Regulations 2013

UIC Barrow Camp Modifications, 2013

Alaska SeaLife Center Permit 2013

BLM National Petroleum Reserve 2013

Chukchi Sea ITRs 2013

MBM Barrow Shorebird 2013

ABR Permit 2012

Barrow Eider Study 2012

Barrow 60-man Camp 2012 Revision

Barrow Road Improvements 2012

Dalton Highway Rehabilitation Project 2013

Exxon Mobil's Point Thomson Project 2012

LOA Beaufort Sea 2012

LOA Chukchi Sea 2012

MBM Barrow Shorebird 2012

Mustang Development Project Miluveach River 2012

OCS Planning Areas (Beaufort and Chukchi Seas) 2012

Pioneer Nuna Project 2012

Shell Environmental Baseline 2012

Subsistence Regulations 2012

Subsistence Regulations 2012 Appendices

WCS Prudhoe Studies 2012

ABR Permit with Sharkstooth Revision 2011

Barrow Gas Fields Well Drilling 2011

Beaufort ITRs 2011

BLM Lease Sale 2011

BOEMRE Northstar 2011

ConocoPhillips Alpine CD-5 2011

Brownlow Point FUD 2011

Kaktovik Airport Relocation 2011

MBM Barrow Shorebird 2011

MBM Goose Banding 2011

Kogotpak Landfill Remediation 2011

MMPA Permit 2011

Subsistence Regulations 2011

USGS DMA Polar Bear Res 2011

USGS SPEI Satellite Telemety 2011

Wainwright Gravel Pad 2011

MBM North Slope Goose Banding 2010

Barrow Eider Study 2010