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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228



June 23, 1998

Tom Bauer, Albuquerque, New Mexico - (505) 248-6911
Phil Carroll, Portland, Oregon - (503) 231-6121
Terry Sexson, Denver, Colorado - (303) 236-7917 ext. 429



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the northern goshawk in the western United States does not qualify for addition to the Federal endangered species list at this time.

In response to a U.S. District Court ruling, the Service completed a status review and issued a "not warranted" 12-month finding for the northern goshawk , the largest of a group of forest hawks known as accipiters.

As part of this status review, the Service sought the best available scientific data on goshawk population trends, types of habitats known to be used by goshawks, and information on modification, loss, and recovery of forested habitats. Information was requested from Federal, State and Tribal land managers, as well as non-federal owners of forested lands in the western United States. Also, the Service acquired expert peer review of its methodology and of the completeness of its information.

The Service found no evidence of a declining population trend for goshawks. In general, the available data indicate that goshawks remain widely distributed throughout the western United States.

The Service did find that management activities, such as timber harvest, fire suppression, and grazing, have changed the forest characteristics throughout much of the West. However, the Service found no evidence that goshawk habitat is limiting the population, or that a significant curtailment of the species’ habitat or range is occurring.

The northern goshawk has historically been considered uncommon. Research indicates that the goshawk experiences fluctuations in population size, density, and nesting success, presumably in response to natural factors such as prey availability.

In the western U.S., the goshawk typically nests in mature forests with large, tall trees and dense canopies. Its short wings and long tail allow it to maneuver through the forest after birds and to catch small mammals on the ground, unlike most hawks which soar above more open landscapes.

A 1991 petition, submitted by the Maricopa Audubon Society, Arizona Audubon Council, Mesilla Audubon Society, Forest Guardians, Friends of the Owls, Greater Gila Biodiversity Project, HawkWatch, Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, to list the northern goshawk as threatened or endangered in the forested United States west of the 100th meridian, relies largely on a belief that the northern goshawk is dependent on large, unbroken tracts of "old-growth" and mature forest. Neither the petition nor other information available to the Service supports this claim. The Service found that while the goshawk does typically use mature forest or larger trees for nesting, it appears to be a generalist in terms of the variety of types and age-classes of forest habitats it will use.

The goshawk occurs in forested regions across the northern hemisphere, including Europe and Asia. Two recognized subspecies occur in North America. The most widespread subspecies, Accipiter gentilis atricapillus, occurs from the northeastern United States across the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska, and southward through the upland forests of the western United States. The Queen Charlotte goshawk (Accipiter gentilis laingi) occurs in coastal British Columbia and southeastern Alaska, and was not considered during this status review.

The goshawk is a large, raven-sized hawk with a long tail and short wings. It has a black crown and cheek with a broad white stripe over the eye, pale gray breast and darker gray back. It flies with several quick beats and a glide.

A notice of this finding on a petition to list the northern goshawk in the forested United States west of the 100th meridian is expected to be published in the Federal Register later this week.

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