- ES Home
- What We Do
- Candidate Conservation
- Listing and Critical Habitat
- For Landowners
- About Us
- FWS Regions
- Laws & Policies
- For Kids
- Thirty-five Years of the Endangered Species Act
- A Recovery Plan Begins to Flower
- Silvery Minnows Return to Texas
- Recovering a Strange, Elusive Gravedigger
- Reintroducing Rare Beetles to Ohio
- The Cemetery and the Clover
- Groundbreaking Research for the Nihoa Millerbird
- Climbing the Learning Curve of Short-tailed Albatross Recovery
- Cross-border Conservation in Sonora and Arizona
- The Razorback Sucker: Back from the Brink
- Stepping Up Recovery for the Houston Toad
- Hungry Goats Restore Bog Turtle Habitat
- A Challenging Future for the Black-footed Ferret
- Black-footed Ferrets Return to Kansas
- Two California Butterflies Wing Toward Recovery
- The Newell’s Shearwaters of Kilauea Point
- Showy Indian Clover Reintroduction Project
- Restoring the Oregon Chub
- Corps of Engineers Aids Missouri River Wildlife
- Central Valley Project Funds Recovery
- Using Section 7 as a Recovery Tool
- Hawaiian Petrel Faces Uncertain Future
- Endangered Species Day is a Success!
- Partners Protect Habitat for Rare Salamander
Endangered Species Bulletin - Spring 2009
A lot can happen in three and a half decades. For the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the many changes, challenges, and accomplishments in the conservation of our nation’s imperiled trust resources over the past 35 years have been influenced by a variety of social and natural events.
The landscape on China Hill is dry and rocky, reminiscent of an artist’s rendition of some far-away, desolate planet. One wonders what could ever grow in such rough terrain. But junipers and other scraggy shrubs soon catch the eye and remind you that you are indeed in the arid upper reaches of northern California.
One of America’s most critically endangered species, the Rio Grande silvery minnow (Hybognathus amarus), began to face a brighter future on December 17, 2008, with the release of more than 430,000 hatchery-raised fish into former habitat in the Big Bend region of west Texas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to release additional fish there over the next four years to establish an experimental, self-sustaining wild population in the lower Rio Grande.
The American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) is a large, vividly marked insect named for its practice of burying its food – carrion – for later consumption. Sometimes referred to as "nature’s gravedigger," this oddly colorful scavenger is a natural recycler, ridding the surface of dead animals and returning them to the food web.
In the summer of 2008, biologists released 228 pairs of captive-bred American burying beetles (Nicrophorus americanus) on the Wayne National Forest in southeast Ohio. The reintroduction of this endangered species into Ohio began in 1998 with the release of beetles from healthy populations in Arkansas. Since 2002, Ohio State University (OSU) has maintained a captive breeding colony for release of beetles within the state. Beetles for the 2008 release came from OSU and the Saint Louis Zoo, which has been producing beetles for release in Ohio since 2005. This was the largest release in Ohio and the first release of American burying beetles on the Wayne National Forest.
Congress Green Cemetery in North Bend, Ohio, is more than just the location of the President William Henry Harrison Tomb. This unique cemetery, managed by the Ohio Historical Society, is also home to an endangered plant, the running buffalo clover (Trifolium stoloniferum). In a close partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ohio Field Office, the Historical Society is working to improve the habitat for running buffalo clover on their cemetery property.
Found only on the small Hawaiian island of Nihoa, the critically endangered Nihoa millerbird (Acrocephalus familiaris kingi) teeters on the brink of extinction. Its single, small population is highly vulnerable to chance events such as severe storms and droughts, accidental introduction of alien species and diseases, and population fluctuations. But new research provides hope that a second population can be established.
How do you establish a new seabird colony? That was the question facing the Short-Tailed Albatross Recovery Team when it convened in 2005. Although the short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus), or STAL, was listed in 1970 as endangered, it was initially considered a foreign species. It was not officially protected in the United States until 2000, when the listing was corrected to protect the bird’s habitat in this country. So, despite the species’ long tenure as a listed species, recovery planning never really got underway until the new millennium. The fact that the STAL is international in range – nesting in Japan and foraging extensively in the waters off Alaska – presents interesting challenges in recovery planning.
Arizona and Sonora share an amazing diversity of biological resources, including many at-risk species of mutual concern to the United States and México. About 40 species occurring in both Arizona and Sonora are on the U.S. or the México endangered species lists, or both. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s México Program in Arizona has been working with many partners in both countries to inventory, monitor, conserve, and recover these species.
As far back as 3 to 5 million years ago, a unique-looking fish with an abrupt, sharp-edged hump behind its head swam the Colorado River and its tributaries. Once widespread and abundant, the razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) is now extremely rare in the wild.
Hidden beneath the sandy soils of the ecologically unique "Lost Pines" region of central Texas resides one of the state’s most imperiled species. The Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis) is a small, greenish-brown, speckled amphibian that can be distinguished from other toads by the high-pitched, trill-sounding call that males emit during breeding choruses each spring. It depends on the forests of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and various hardwood trees it inhabits for migrating, hibernating, and feeding. Ephemeral water sources serve as breeding sites.
During the hottest months of last summer, 19 workers labored every day to remove woody vegetation that invaded a 5-acre (2.2 hectare) wetland in Carroll County Maryland. But these workers were not your typical Fish and Wildlife Service staff. They were goats, and their affinity for woody vegetation made them superb partners in restoring this wet meadow, which is important habitat for a rare reptile, the bog turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii).
The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) is a small, weasel-like animal with a long, slender body marked by black feet and a black mask. Once feared to be extinct, it is among our nation’s rarest animals. Black-footed ferrets depend almost exclusively on prairie dogs, which provide food and shelter.
On December 31, 1957, the last known live black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) in the State of Kansas was seen near the town of Studley. Nearly 50 years later, on December 18, 2007, ferrets returned to Kansas. The reintroduction marked the beginning of an experimental effort that we hope will allow ferrets to make Kansas prairies their home again.
The Palos Verdes and El Segundo blue butterflies are small, colorful creatures that survive on pockets of habitat within highly urbanized southern California. Conservation partners are helping the Fish and Wildlife Service make progress toward the recovery of these endangered species.
Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, located on the northern tip of the island of Kaua‘i, is the only unit of the entire National Wildlife Refuge System that can boast the presence of nesting Newell’s shearwaters (Puffinus auricularis newelli).
The showy Indian clover (Trifolium amoenum), a tall native annual, is an endangered wildflower that was once widespread in coastal grasslands within the counties surrounding San Francisco Bay, California. In 1994, after almost all known populations were extirpated due to habitat loss, the Fish and Wildlife Service listed this species as endangered. The single remaining wild population grows in the front yard of a private residence in coastal Marin County. But in July 2006, Diana Immel (a rare-plant ecologist) and the Service’s Sacramento Field Office reintroduced the showy Indian clover to Point Reyes National Seashore (PORE) in Marin County, California.
Oregon chub (Oregonichthys crameri) are small minnows endemic to the Willamette Valley of western Oregon. They were formerly common and distributed throughout the valley in off-channel habitat, such as beaver ponds, oxbows, stable backwater sloughs, and flooded marshes. In the last 100 years, these habitats have been drastically reduced due to changes in seasonal flows resulting from the construction of dams, channelization of the Willamette River and its tributaries, and draining of wetlands for bottomland agriculture. This loss of habitat, combined with predation by introduced non-native game fishes, led to a sharp decline in Oregon chub abundance and a restricted distribution. In 1993, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed this species as endangered.
The Missouri River flows for 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) from its headwaters in Three Forks, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is charged by Congress to manage the river for social and economic benefits. The Corps’ Missouri River Endangered Species Office at its Gavins Point Project in Yankton, South Dakota, has taken that charge one step further. It envisions "a sustainable ecosystem capable of supporting thriving populations of native species while providing for current social and economic values."
Over many decades, wildlife and its habitats have declined significantly in the Central Valley of California. To help mitigate this loss, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Fish and Wildlife Service co-manage two programs that contribute to the recovery of threatened and endangered species: the Central Valley Project Conservation Program (CVPCP) and the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) Habitat Restoration Program (HRP).
Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of the most important provisions of this landmark law. Specifically, section 7 (a)(1) charges federal agencies with aiding in the conservation of listed species, and section 7 (a)(2) requires agencies to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service (or NOAAFisheries for most marine species) to ensure that any projects or activities they fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or adversely modify designated critical habitat.
They were said to have darkened the skies as large flocks flew overhead. Hawaiian petrels (Pterodroma sandwichensis) are remarkable seabirds that travel as far as the Aleutian Islands in Alaska to obtain food for their young, and then return each year to the Hawaiian Islands to breed. While bird enthusiasts hope to hear the rhythmic vocalization of a petrel or spot it returning to its colony after a long foraging trip at sea, researchers probe the mysteries surrounding this species. What is its preferred breeding habitat? Where does it go at sea? Has its diet and foraging range changed over time? What is its impact on the surrounding ecosystem? Answering these and many other questions will help protect the Hawaiian petrel, but for some of its colonies, time may be running out.
Endangered Species Day, recognized by Congress since 2006 as the second full-week Friday in May, is a time to learn about endangered species, celebrate successes in their recovery, and gain a greater appreciation for what it takes to conserve a species and its habitat.
The recovery of one of California’s most imperiled species, the endangered Santa Cruz long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum), took a dramatic step forward in May 2007 when a key 55-acre (22-hectare) property supporting this species was acquired through the collaborative efforts of the Wildlife Conservation Board, the Trust for Public Land, the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Photo credits: Credit information for each of the preview photos on this page can be found on the corresponding full story page.
What We Do
- Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs)
- Safe Harbor Agreements
- Candidate Conservation Agreements
- Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances
- Recovery Credits and Tax Deductions
- Conservation Banking
- Conservation Plans Database
- Information, Planning and Conservation System (IPaC)
- Recovery Online Activity Reporting System (ROAR)
- News Stories
- Featured Species
- Recovery Success Stories
- Endangered Species Bulletin
- Partnership Stories