Friday, January 21, 2011

Proposed Changes to NJ Endangered Species List

Proposed amendments to the list of endangered wildlife species, and the list of nongame wildlife native to the state, were scheduled to be published in the New Jersey Register on January 18, 2011.

The list changes are being proposed to reflect recent status assessments of many birds and insects, and makes corrections to many species taxonomic names. The proposal also changes some of the status terms and definitions that apply to nongame wildlife to better reflect current species status in the state.

The Endangered, Nongame and Exotic Wildlife rules include the list of endangered species which was last amended in April 2003. The Department is proposing to amend the list of endangered species to add five species and reclassify eight species to differentiate the level of conservation concern applicable to the species during the breeding season from that applicable during the nonbreeding season.

The proposed amendments add four species to the list of endangered species based upon this analysis: black rail (breeding population), golden-winged warbler (breeding population), red knot (non-breeding population), and gray petaltail (a dragonfly). In addition to the four species proposed for change to endangered status, it is proposed that the Indiana bat be included in the list of New Jersey endangered species because it is listed as endangered pursuant to the Federal Endangered Species Act.

The Department is proposing to modify the endangered status of eight species of birds for either the breeding or non-breeding populations.

The bald eagle is currently classified as endangered for both breeding and non-breeding populations. The classification of the bald eagle will continue to be endangered for the breeding population, which includes all bald eagles present in the State during the breeding season. However, the non-breeding population, which includes all bald eagles present in the State outside of the breeding season, is proposed to be reclassified as threatened.

Six bird species currently listed as endangered for both breeding and non-breeding populations are proposed to continue to be classified as endangered for their breeding populations but are proposed to be listed as special concern for their non-breeding populations. These species are the pied-billed grebe, northern harrier, northern goshawk, peregrine falcon, short-eared owl, and vesper sparrow.

Loggerhead shrike
Image: http://www.conservewildlifenj.org/images/artmax_206.jpg

For the loggerhead shrike, another bird species currently listed as endangered for both breeding and non-breeding populations, the non-breeding population will continue to be classified as endangered at, but the breeding population is proposed to be classified as extirpated, as this species no longer breeds in New Jersey.

The proposed rule amendments are open for public comment until March 19, 2011. The official notice of the rule proposal, as well as a link to the rule amendments, can be viewed on the NJ DEP website at nj.gov/dep/rules/notices.html

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