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The Mountain-Prairie Region


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

September 22, 1997

Refer: Tom Bauer, Albuquerque, New Mexico - (505) 248-6911
Susan Saul, 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 status of the northern goshawk in the western United States warrants further review to determine if it should be listed as threatened or endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The Service has until June 22, 1998, to complete the review and reach a decision regarding whether to propose the goshawk for listing.

"Recent studies have shown goshawk populations may be declining in some areas of the West due to loss and modification of their forest habitats, but the data are not conclusive," says Nancy Kaufman, Regional Director of the Service's Southwest Region. "We will work closely with researchers, organizations, and other land-managing agencies to determine the bird's status throughout the West."

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, and a pale gray breast and darker gray back. It flies with several quick beats and a glide.

The goshawk occurs in forested regions across the northern hemisphere, including Europe and Asia. Three subspecies occur in North America. The most widespread, 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 U.S. The Apache goshawk (A. g. apache) accurs in southern Arizona and New Mexico, extending southward into Mexico. Its range overlaps with A. g. atricapillus, which occurs in all western states. The Queen Charlotte goshawk (A. g. laingi) occurs in coastal British Columbia and southesastern Alaska, and is outside the status review area.

In the West, 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 thick forest after birds and to catch small mammals on the ground, unlike most hawks that soar high above the ground in more open landscapes.

Data from a number of studies report declining goshawk numbers and loss or modification of habitat. A range-wide assessment of the goshawk has not been conducted, however, so scientists do not know if identified decreases are local phenomena or reflect the range-wide condition of the bird.

As part of this status review, the Service is seeking data on goshawk population trends and information on loss, modification, and recovery of their forested habitats. The Service is also seeking information to clarify taxonomic distinctions between the northern goshawk and the Apache goshawk.

In 1991, the Maricopa Audubon Society, Arizona Audubon Council, Southwest New Mexico Audubon Society, 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 petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to list the northern goshawk as endangered in the forested United States west of the 100th meridian. A petition is a formal request, supported with biological data, that a species be listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Service is required to publish a finding if biologists determine the petitioned listing may be warranted.

In 1992, the Service published a finding that the petition had not presented enough information to indicate that listing may be warranted. Since then, the petition has been the subject of litigation in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix, which ordered the Service to reconsider its determination that goshawks in the western U.S. did not meet the Service's distinct vertebrate population policy. The Service's criteria that members of a distinct population be in a single species or subspecies was rejected by the court, resulting in today's finding that the status of the goshawk warrants further review.

The public is invited to submit data, information, and comments on the status of the northern goshawk to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 500 Gold Avenue, S.W., Room 3018, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103. Comments and materials received will be available for inspection at the above address.

The 90-day finding on the petition to list the northern goshawk in the forested United States west of the 100th meridian will be published in the Federal Register on September 29, 1997.

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