The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a plan to guide the recovery of the threatened Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, a small desert plant found in the northern and southern Sacramento mountains in Lincoln County, New Mexico, and the Guadalupe mountains in Eddy County, New Mexico.
Focal points of the final recovery plan include stabilizing populations; addressing the primary threats to the species from small population size and low density, wildfire, , and illegal collection; and long-term protection of Kuenzler hedgehog cactus and its habitat from ongoing and future threats.
“The Kuenzler hedgehog recovery plan outlines how we can work with partners to stop the species’ decline and ensure its long-term survival,” said Shawn Sartorious, New Mexico Field Supervisor for the Service.
The Kuenzler hedgehog cactus grows on sandy gravel and rocky outcrops in grassland and woodland areas of southeastern New Mexico. The species was federally listed as endangered in 1979. At that time, fewer than 200 individuals had been documented at two locations. The discovery of additional populations, together with efforts to conserve the plant and its habitat, resulted in the Kuenzler hedgehog cactus being reclassified as threatened in 2018.
Delisting of the Kuenzler hedgehog cactus will be considered when stable or increasing trends in abundance are documented in at least three core sites within the northern and southern Sacramento mountains, and Guadalupe mountains management areas over 20 years.
Recovery planning is one step in a process to address threats to endangered and threatened species. Plans provide a road map for private, tribal, federal and state cooperation in conserving listed species and their ecosystems. While a recovery plan provides guidance on how best to help listed species achieve recovery, it is not a regulatory document. The recovery plan for the Kuenzler hedgehog cactus was developed in partnership with species experts and the state wildlife agency to provide a vision, strategy and the criteria to recover the species. Once a recovery plan is finalized, recovery partners outline specific activities in a Recovery Implementation Strategy.
The final recovery plan is available at https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp/species/2859.
Wildlife, fish and plants such as the Kuenzler hedgehog cactus are a critical part of healthy, functioning ecosystems. The growing extinction crisis highlights the importance of the ESA and efforts to conserve species before population declines become irreversible. It also underscores how human activity can impact wildlife and ecosystems by contributing to habitat loss, collection/ overutilization and the introduction of and disease. The growing impacts of climate change are anticipated to further exacerbate these threats and their interactions for many species and ecosystems.
Stemming the ongoing extinction crisis is a central component of the Biden-Harris administration’s bold conservation initiative: America the Beautiful. The initiative is focused on supporting locally led and voluntary efforts to conserve, connect and restore 30 percent of lands and waters in the U.S. by 2030, while enhancing wildlife habitat and improving biodiversity.