Agency Releases Annual Candidate Species List

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‘     WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its shortest threatened or endangered candidate species list in more than 12 years, according to the agency”s statement.
     “For the first time since 1996, the number of plants and animals waiting for federal protection has dropped below 200, highlighting the success of a landmark agreement reached with the Center for Biological Diversity that requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to speed protection decisions for 757 species,” the Center for Biological Diversity stated in its press release.
     This year”s annual Candidate Notice of Review recognizes 192 species as candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act and reflects the addition of two species, the Peñasco least chipmunk and the Cumberland arrow darter, three removals from the list, and nine priority changes since the October 2011 review, according to the agency.
     Two of the three delisted species, elongate mud meadow springsnail and Christ”s paintbrush, were removed due to successful conservation partnerships with other federal agencies, the USFWS said. The bog asphodel was removed because it has protections for almost all sites, additional sites have been identified, and updated information on threats led the agency to conclude that it no longer needed ESA protection, the agency noted.
     “Our ultimate goal is to have the smallest Candidate List possible, by addressing the needs of species before they require ESA protection and extending the ESA”s protections to species that truly need it,” USFWS Director Dan Ashe said.
     The annual review of candidate species provides landowners and resource managers notice of species in need of conservation, and allows them to address threats and possibly avoid the need to list the species. The USFWS is working with landowners and partners in voluntary conservation agreements, such Candidate Conservation Agreements and Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances, currently covering 5 million acres of habitat for more than 130 candidate species, the agency noted.
     The agency “reviewed the available information on candidate species to ensure that a proposed listing is justified for each species, and reevaluated the relative LPN [Listing Priority Number] assigned to each species. [It] also evaluated the need to emergency-list any of these species, particularly species with high priorities (i.e., species with LPNs of 1, 2, or 3). This review and reevaluation ensures that we focus conservation efforts on those species at greatest risk first,” according to the notice of review.
     The changes in priority “reflect actual changes in either the magnitude or immediacy of the threats,” the action noted.
     The total of candidate species includes 69 plants and 123 animal species.
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