In 2011, the Southeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) began implementing a conservation strategy to comprehensively and systematically address the status of more than 400 fish, wildlife, and plant species that may need protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Some of these “at-risk species” were already listed as candidates under the ESA, while others were recently peti-tioned to be listed.
The record number of species’ evaluations is in part the result of a national, multidistrict litigation settlement agreement, as well as a mega-petition, brought by several conservation groups. The groups are asking the FWS to provide federal protection to species that are currently candidates for federal protection (per the multidistrict litigation settlement agreement), as well consider over 400 new species for federal protection (per the mega-petition).
Candidate species are plants and animals for which the FWS has sufficient information on their biological status and threats to propose them as endangered or threatened under the ESA, but that development of a proposed listing regulation is precluded by higher priority listing activities.
In addition to biologists recommending a species be considered for federal listing, citizens may also petition the FWS to add species to the list of threatened and endangered species. In 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petitioned the FWS to list 404 aquatic-associated species in the Southeast. After our initial review, we determined that the petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that federal listing may be warranted for 374 of the 404 petitioned species. Therefore, we will be initiating status reviews to determine if listing is warranted for these species.
Subsequently, CBD also peti-tioned the FWS to list 53 reptile and amphibian species. Although we have not yet made an initial determination for the reptile and amphibian petition, we are interested in gathering information on the status of and threats for these species as well.
Please see the factsheets below for more information and office contacts.