Monday, November 16, 2009

USFWS Releases Annual List of Candidates For Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its annual list of proposed candidate species, or "candidate notice of review."

These are plants and animals that the agency says may be designated as endangered unless conservation measures are taken to protect them.

There are several things that can be done to help these plants and animals, in hopes that they don't make it the official endangered list some day. That includes a grant-funded program that supports conservation projects by private landowners, states and territories.

There are already 249 species listed as candidates for protection, so any addition creates a need for federal and state governments to take action - and that action requires money. Already, our current economic problems may have encouraged existing lists in states to be left alone. While that creates no new expenditures, it also creates no savings. It also may offer continued protection to species that may have been at a point where their status would change to threatened or no longer require protection.

At this point decisions need to be made about adding new species. Five contenders face "immediate, identifiable threats," according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Three are plants, one mammal and one fish.
  • Rabbitsfoot mussel - only found in 49 streams in 15 states, including Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio
  • Florida bonneted bat - found at 12 locations in central and south Florida
  • Kentucky gladecress - a plant found in Bullitt and Jefferson Counties, Kentucky
  • Florida bristle fern - found in small areas of Miami-Dade and Sumter Counties in Florida
  • diamond darter - a small fish found only in portions of the Elk River in West Virginia.

There also were four species removed from the candidate list at this point: 2 plants from Puerto Rico; the troglobitic groundwater shrimp found in Puerto Rico, Barbuda and the Dominican Republic; and the fat whorled pondsnail from Utah.

Candidate species are plants and animals for which the Service has enough information on their status and threats to propose them as threatened or endangered, but developing a proposed listing rule is precluded by higher priority listing actions.

As part of this review, the Service is soliciting additional information on these candidate species, as well as information on other species that may be eligible for addition to future candidate updates. This information will be valuable in preparing listing documents and future revisions or supplements to the notice of review.
“We will continue to work closely with our partners representing federal and state agencies, tribes, conservation organizations as well as private citizens to conserve these at-risk species before they require the protection of the Endangered Species Act,” said Service Director Sam Hamilton. “Voluntary conservation efforts enable us to leverage our resources to protect these species and the habitats upon which they depend.”

Candidate species do not receive protection under the ESA, although the Service works to conserve them. The annual review and identification of candidate species provides resource managers advance notice of species in need of conservation, allowing them to address threats and work to preclude the need to list the species.

The Service has several tools for protecting candidate species and their habitat, including a grants program that funds conservation projects by private landowners, states and territories.

In addition, the Service can enter into Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCA), formal agreements between the Service and one or more parties to address the conservation needs of proposed or candidate species, or species likely to become candidates, before they become listed as endangered or threatened. CCA participants voluntarily commit to implementing specific actions that will remove or reduce the threats to these species, thereby contributing to stabilizing or restoring the species.

Another similar tool is the Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs). While these voluntary agreements are only between the Service and non-Federal landowners, they have the same goals as CCAs of addressing threats to candidate species.

The complete notice and list of proposed and candidate species that appears in the Federal Register and can be found online at

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. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service.

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