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Fish and Wildlife Service Listing Four South Florida Plants as Threatened or Endangered

September 28, 2016

A bright yellow flower with five petals and dark red stamen.
A Big Pine partridge pea. Photo: Keith Bradley.

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Four plants only found in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties are being listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

A shrub, Big Pine partridge pea, and two herbs, wedge spurge and sand flax, are being given endangered status, meaning these plants are in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their range.

The fourth plant, a shrub called Blodgett’s silverbush is being given threatened status, meaning the silverbush is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

All four plants are endangered on the State of Florida’s Regulated Plant Index. The Service is not designating critical habitat for the four plants at this time.

Service Proposes Protections for Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Under Endangered Species Act

September 21, 2016

A close up shot of a black and yellow bumble bee with dark orange spot collecting nectar from a flower.
Rusty patched bumble bee. Photo courtesy of Dan Mullen/Creative Commons.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose the rusty patched bumble bee as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, citing a steep decline in the species’ numbers throughout its range. The rusty patched bumble bee, once widespread, is now found in scattered, small populations in 12 states and one Canadian province.

Twenty years ago, the rusty patched bumble bee was an abundant native pollinator found across a broad geographic range that included 28 states and the District of Columbia, from Connecticut to South Dakota and north into two provinces in Canada. The rusty patched bumble bee is now found only in Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin – and Ontario, Canada. Abundance and distribution of rusty patched bumble bee populations have declined by an estimated 91 percent since the mid to late 1990s.

Threats to the rusty patched bumble bee include disease (for example, from infected commercial honeybee colonies), exposure to pesticides, habitat loss, the effects of climate change, the effects of extremely small populations, and a combination of these factors.

Endangered Species Act Protection Not Needed for Four Southeastern Animals

September 20, 2016

A close up photo of a semi translucent gray-silver crayfish walking on rocky substrate.
Angular dwarf crayfish. Photo: Chris Lukhaup, USDA Forest Service.

Responding to requests to add them to the federal threatened and endangered species list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that the angular dwarf crayfish, Icebox Cave beetle, Clifton Cave beetle, and the Virgin Island coqui do not need such protection.

“To receive Endangered Species Act protection, the species must be facing threats that would likely cause extinction or threaten existence in the foreseeable future,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director.  “They face little to no apparent threat or are the focus of ongoing conservation efforts enabling them to overcome threats.”

Previous reviews found that the two cave beetles warranted inclusion on the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) list of protected wildlife and plants, but doing so was precluded by higher-priority species. With this decision, the Service has reconsidered those species, taking into account recent conservation efforts, species abundance, and changes in threats. This decision marks the first time the Service has considered the angular dwarf crayfish for the endangered species list.  In January 2014, the Service published a 90-Day finding stating that the Virgin Islands coqui, a small frog, may warrant listing under the ESA.  The Service examined the best historical and current information for the coqui to make its determination in this 12-month finding.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes to List Pearl Darter as Threatened

September 20, 2016

A small, long fish with dark spots and a long dorsal fin in an aquarium.
Pearl darter. J.R. Schute, Conservation Fisheries Inc., Photo used with permission.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined the pearl darter is likely to be at risk of becoming endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Therefore, the Service proposes to add this small, snub-nosed fish to the list of protected wildlife as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

At the same time, the Service has concluded that critical habitat cannot be determined because additional information is needed to complete the required analyses of potential impacts from a proposed designation.  The pearl darter is currently listed as endangered in Mississippi by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.

“The Southeast Region’s rich biodiversity is like no other in the nation,” said Cynthia Dohner, Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We need to conserve wildlife and their habitats for future generations because this conservation can also help ensure cleaner streams and rivers for people to use and enjoy as well.”

Service Releases Access Plans for Three Sisters Springs for the Upcoming Winter Season

September 15, 2016

The silhouette of a manatee photographed underwater from below.
Silhouette of a manatee. Photo: USFWS.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established updated, science-based protocols to help determine when Three Sisters Springs is open for in-water wildlife viewing this winter.

“Our goal is to be fully transparent on how we make day-to-day decisions for in-water public access to Three Sisters Springs this winter,” said Joyce Palmer, the new Project Leader for the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “We know that cold weather and high tides increase the likelihood of higher numbers of manatees inside the springs, but other factors will also be considered to ensure manatees are not disturbed.” “We also will take into account manatee distribution, behavior, and water visibility when we determine if Three Sisters Springs will be open to visitor in-water access,” said Palmer.

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Last updated: September 28, 2016