The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its Candidate Notice of Review, a yearly appraisal of the current status of plants and animals considered candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). One species has been removed from candidate status, five have been added, and four have a change in priority from the last review conducted in November of 2009. There are now 251 species recognized by the Service as candidates for ESA protection.
“The candidate list offers the Service and our partners a unique opportunity to address the threats to these species through voluntary conservation efforts on public and private lands,” said Acting Service Director Rowan Gould. “We will continue working to reduce the number of candidate species by developing conservation agreements that reduce or eliminate the threats they face, and by listing species that warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act as soon as possible.”
Candidate species are plants and animals for which the Service has enough information on their status and the threats they face to propose them as threatened or endangered, but developing a proposed listing rule is precluded by higher priority listing actions. 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 landowners and resource managers notice of species in need of conservation, allowing them to address threats and work to preclude the need to list the species. The Service is currently working with landowners and partners to implement voluntary conservation agreements covering 5 million acres of habitat for more than 130 candidate species.
Today’s notice identifies five new candidate species: the Kentucky arrow darter (KY); Rosemont talussnail (AZ); Kenk’s amphipod (DC, MD); Packard’s milkvetch (ID); and the Vandenberg monkeyflower (CA). All candidates are assigned a listing priority number based on the magnitude and imminence of the threats they face. When adding species to the list of threatened or endangered species, the Service addresses species with the highest listing priority first. The four changes in priority announced in today’s notice are based on new information in the updated assessments of continuing candidates. These changes include one species that increased in priority and three that lowered in priority.
The one species removed from the candidate list is a mammal from California — the Palm Springs round-tailed ground squirrel. The Service removed this species after a review of new genetics and morphological information found that it is more widespread and as a result does not face threats to an extent that ESA protection is needed.
The Service is soliciting additional information on these candidate species, as well as information on other species that may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. This information will be valuable in preparing listing documents and future revisions or supplements to the candidate notice of review.
The Service has several tools for protecting candidate species and their habitats, including a grants program that funds conservation projects by private landowners, states and territories. In addition, the Service can enter into Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCAs), formal agreements between the Service and one or more public or private parties to address the conservation needs of proposed or candidate species, or species likely to become candidates, before they actually become listed as endangered or threatened. CCA participants voluntarily commit to implementing specific actions removing or reducing the threats to these species, thereby contributing to stabilizing or restoring the species. Through 110 CCAs, habitat for more than 100 species is managed on federal, state, local agency, tribal and private lands; many CAAs have multiple cooperators focusing conservation actions in an area supporting a single or multiple species. Another similar tool is the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAAs). While these voluntary agreements are only between the Service and non-Federal landowners, they have the same goals as CCAs in addressing threats to candidate species, but with additional incentives for conservation actions on non-Federal lands. More than 60 landowners in 15 states have enrolled over 1 million acres of habitat for 39 species.
The complete notice and list of proposed and candidate species appears in the Federal Register and can be found online at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/cnor.html.
Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service