FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 23, 2002
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it will expand its review of the status of the cerulean warbler, a small woodland bird, after reviewing a petition to list the warbler as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Service found the petition contained information indicating there may be a need to list the species.
The Service’s finding initiates a further evaluation of the status of the cerulean warbler, a species which inhabits woodlands from the East Coast to the Mississippi River. During the evaluation, the Service will open a 90-day public comment period to allow the agency to receive information about the cerulean warbler from state, tribal, and other federal agencies, universities, scientists, and the general public. After reviewing available information, the Service will make a decision whether to propose the cerulean warbler as a threatened species.
The Service received the petition to list the cerulean warbler on October 31, 2000. The petition was signed by 28 organizations and was submitted to the Service through the Southern Environmental Law Center. The petition to list the cerulean warbler cited the species’ declining populations primarily due to loss of woodland habitat. Under the Endangered Species Act, anyone may petition the Service to list a species as endangered or threatened and provide data supporting that recommendation. When a petition is received, the Service must make an initial finding on the substantiality of the petition; if this finding is positive, further review of the species’ status begins. At the end of the review period, the Service must determine whether listing is warranted, not warranted, or warranted but precluded by listing actions for species with a higher priority for listing.
The cerulean warbler is a small woodland songbird that ranges across eastern North America from the eastern Great Plains, north to Minnesota, east to Massachusetts, and south to Louisiana. Named for the male’s blue plumage, the cerulean warbler breeds primarily in the Ohio and Mississippi River basins and spends winter months in South America.
The Service has been reviewing the status of the cerulean warbler because,
like many songbirds that migrate to neotropical areas, there is concern
that its numbers are declining. A status assessment for the cerulean
warbler was contracted by the Service and completed in April 2000; a
follow-up effort further reviewed the threats to its habitat on public
forest lands. This assessment and the subsequent threats review indicated
that cerulean warbler populations are declining, but did not recommend
elevating the species to candidate status for listing. With the review
of the petition and this initial finding that the petitioned action
may be warranted, the Service will expand its review of the species’
status, this time also asking for information from the public to update
the 2000 assessment.
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