Conserving the Nature of America

News Release

Service Finds Endangered Species Act Protection May Be Warranted for 10 Penguin Species

July 10, 2007


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

Protection under the Endangered Species Act may be warranted for 10 species of penguins found in Antarctica and the southern hemisphere, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today. The Service will conduct a full review of the 10 species status and determine whether to propose them for inclusion on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.

The penguin species inhabit areas of Antarctica, Argentina, Australian Territory Islands, Chile, French Territory Islands, Namibia, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa and United Kingdom Territory Islands. Threats to the species include commercial fishing, competition for prey, habitat loss, danger from non-native predators, contaminants, pollution and impacts to the marine and terrestrial environment brought on by climate change.

The Services initial finding was made in response to a petition that asked that 12 penguin species be listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Services initial review, called a 90-day finding under the Act, found substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted for only 10 of those species.

Listing these penguin species under the Endangered Species Act would provide limited and indirect protection, since no penguins are native to the United States. A listing would make it illegal to engage in certain activities such as the import or export of specimens of these species without an ESA permit, which is issued only if an activity has a conservation benefit. Listing would also focus international attention on the species conservation needs.

The 10 penguin species for which the Service found substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted include the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri), southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome), northern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi (E. chrysocome moseleyi)), fiordland crested penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus), erect-crested penguin (Eudyptes sclateri), macaroni penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus), white-flippered penguin (Eudyptula albosignata (E. minor albosignata)), yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), and Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti).

The petition did not contain substantial information to indicate that a listing may be warranted for snares crested penguin (Eudyptes robustus) and royal penguin (Eudyptes schlegeli).

During the status review, the Service will examine current scientific literature and contact experts on penguin biology and other relevant areas. To ensure that the review is comprehensive, the Service will open a 60-day comment period on July 11, 2007, to solicit scientific and commercial information from the public, regarding these species and including:

  • Information on population taxonomy, distribution, habitat selection and trends (especially breeding and foraging habitats) diet, and population abundance and trends (especially current recruitment data) on these species;

  • Information on effects of climate change and changing ocean or land or sea ice conditions on the distribution and abundance of these species and their principal prey species over the short and long term (especially information on known prey substitutions, and what their effects would be on these species;

  • Information on the effects of other potential threat factors, including commercial fishing activities, contaminants, habitat loss, harvest, predation by other animals, and diseases of these species or their principal prey over the short and long term, and;

  • Information on management programs for penguin conservation, including mitigation measures related to conservation programs, fisheries management, and any other private, tribal, or governmental conservation programs which benefit these species, and;

  • Information concerning whether any populations of the species may qualify as distinct population segments.
Comments in writing may be forwarded by mail to the Special Assistant to the Deputy Assistant Director, International Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 760, Arlington, VA 22203; by fax to 703-358-2276 or by Email to, or through the Federal eRulemaking portal at">. A link to the Federal Register notice of the 90-day finding may be found at

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 547 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.

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