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Service determines two Southeastern orchids do not warrant Endangered Species Act protections

Science-based reviews show redundant and protected populations in dozens of countries across Latin America and the West Indies

Based on reviews of the best available science, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has found that the Big Cypress epidendrum and Cape Sable orchid do not face the threat of extinction now or in the foreseeable future and do not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

New surveys and the latest science have determined that these orchids occur across Latin America and the West Indies in a variety of habitat types and elevations that will help ensure the species’ persistence into the future. The Service has no information to indicate that those populations are subject to threats that would significantly reduce their viability. Historically, these orchids have been narrowly distributed in Florida and these small populations are not vital to the long-term survival of the species.

The Service will continue to support national and international partners in the ongoing conservation and research efforts on behalf of these orchids. We also ask the public to submit to us, at any time, new information that may be relevant to the status of either of these orchids or their habitats as it becomes available.

For each species, the Service brought together a team of biologists that compiled and examined all known data and research. The peer-reviewed findings for each are outlined in species status assessments (SSA) that use the conservation biology principles of resiliency, redundancy and representation. The SSA reports for each of these species and detailed descriptions of the basis for each of these findings will be published in the Federal Register on September 1, 2020 and are available online today.

Big Cypress epidendrum

The Big Cypress epidendrum is widely documented in 24 countries outside the United States, with at least 65 populations throughout the tropical Americas and the West Indies. It has been recorded across Brazil in recent surveys from 2010 to 2018 and has also been recorded in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Nicaragua, Mexico and Peru since 2000. NatureServe lists the species as “globally secure” which is defined as uncommon but not rare. It has been documented at one location in the United States, a single population on a conservation site in Collier County, Florida, within the boundaries of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park (FSPSP). FSPSP is a publicly-owned state conservation area where the species and its habitat are protected. The estimated population in FSPSP is fewer than 1,000 plants, and recent surveys indicate the species remains rare but widely distributed within the park. FSPSP implements periodic exotic plant management control efforts to minimize impacts to the Big Cypress epidendrum and reports that these efforts have been successful.

Cape Sable orchid

The majority of the Cape Sable orchid’s range lies outside of the United States, in at least 17 countries with between 81-300 populations in each. In the United States, one population occurs in South Florida on conservation lands in Everglades National Park and has been documented with an estimated current population size of 500 to 1,000 plants. Populations in Jamaica and Cuba are considered common, and the populations in Jamaica are located on protected lands. In Cuba, the species can be found across all 15 provinces and is considered common.

Detailed descriptions of these findings and contact information for each are available online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal under the following docket numbers:

Species Docket Number
Big Cypress epidendrum FWS–R4–ES–2020–0043
Cape Sable orchid FWS–R4–ES–2020–0044

Since 2011, more than 200 species in the eastern United States have not required federal protections as a result of proactive conservation with diverse partners and improved science. The effort to conserve at-risk wildlife and plants and recover listed species is led by the Service and state wildlife agencies in partnership with other government agencies, private landowners, conservation groups, tribes, businesses, utilities and others.


Ken Warren, public affairs specialist, (772) 469-4323

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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