FWS considers 600 species
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will conduct in-depth reviews of 374 animal and plant species indigenous to the U.S. southeast to determine whether they need protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The new study will commence right after it completes its current examination of more than 250 species now on the candidate list for ESA protection.
In total, FWS will be looking at nearly 625 different species to determine whether it can prevent their extinction or maintain populations by removing or lessening threats to their survival. The two studies are expected to take at least six years.
On Sept. 9, 2011, the D.C. Circuit Court approved two settlement agreements between the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), WildEarth Guardians, and FWS. These settlements require FWS to make listing decisions under the ESA on these species within five years. According to court records, “the Service must be able to devote more of its available resources to substantive listing and critical habitat determinations for candidate species.”
According to the court documents, FWS has 90 days to make an initial determination about whether a listing is warranted as soon as it receives a petition for a threatened or endangered listing.
The litigation that led to these settlements relates to FWS’s response to species listing petitions made by CBD and WildEarth Guardians. FWS initially found that listing was warranted for 251 species.
Candidate species do not receive protection under the ESA. Under the settlements, FWS is required to review the 251 candidate species and either propose listing or make a finding that listing is not warranted by 2016. The U.S. currently has over 2,200 animals and plants on the endangered species list.— WLJ