DENVER — Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing a proposed rule to remove the Colorado hookless cactus (Sclerocactus glaucus) from the list of federally threatened and endangered species. This proposed action is the result of ongoing conservation efforts, species resiliency, and improved scientific information about the Colorado hookless cactus. In addition, this action includes a draft post-delisting monitoring plan and opens a 60-day public comment period upon publication in the Federal Register.
The most recent genetic analyses determined that the currently listed entity, Colorado hookless cactus, actually represents two distinct species: Sclerocactus glaucus and Sclerocactus dawsonii. Both are endemic cactus species found in the Colorado and Gunnison River basins and their tributary canyons in western Colorado. These species can be found in semi-arid high-elevation desert environments and are identifiable during late April and early May with distinctive pink flowers.
In 2021, the Service developed a Species Status Assessment (SSA) report for both species and announced the completion of a five-year status review, which also discussed the new taxonomical information for the Colorado hookless cactus. The five-year status review provided recommendations to remove Sclerocactu glaucus from the federally threatened species list and not to list Sclerocactus dawsonii.
After an extensive review using the best available scientific information, the Service determined that threats to the species have been sufficiently minimized. A review of the latest science also indicates that the species are much more abundant than thought to be at the time of listing. Therefore, the Service’s review of the Colorado hookless cactus concludes that neither species currently meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.
The Service greatly appreciates the efforts of our partners in developing the SSA that informed this proposed delisting and their work to monitor and conserve the plant. These collaborative conservation activities have contributed to the positive outlook for the species.
The proposed delisting rule and a draft post-delisting monitoring plan for the Colorado hookless cactus will publish in the Federal Register on April 11, 2023, for public review and comment. The Service will accept comments regarding the proposal for 60 days after publication. Comments may be submitted on regulations.gov, docket number FWS-R6-ES-2022-0093.
Additional information and documents, including the updated SSA and 5-year review, for the Colorado hookless cactus can be found on the species’ profile page.
Today’s announcement comes as the Service celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, the most significant piece of endangered species legislation in our nation’s history and one of the world’s most important conservation laws. The ESA provides a critical safety net for fish, wildlife, and plants and has prevented the extinction of hundreds of species. Today, hundreds of species are stable or improving thanks to the management actions of Tribes, federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations, and private citizens. Conservation partners share a commitment to build on our accomplishments and expand innovative initiatives to further this mission in the future.