Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vulnerable Species Under Review for Endangered Species Listing

Yesterday the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would review the status of 29 vulnerable species for listing under the Endangered Species Act. No birds are on this review list, so the results will not directly affect birders. Instead, there are twenty plants, two fish, one insect, and six snails. Here is a list of the species under consideration:

The 20 plants for which the service issued a positive finding are: Yellowstone sand verbena, Ross’ bentgrass, Hamilton milkvetch, Isely milkvetch, skiff milkvetch, precocious milkvetch, Cisco milkvetch, Schmoll milkvetch, Fremont County rockcress, boat-shaped bugseed, Pipe Springs cryptantha, Weber whitlowgrass, Brandegee’s wild buckwheat, Frisco buckwheat, Ostler’s peppergrass, Lesquerella navajoensis (a bladderpod), Flowers’ penstemon, Gibben’s beardtongue, pale blue-eyed grass and Frisco clover.

The fish is the northern leatherside chub, the two insects are the Platte River caddisfly and mist forestfly (or meltwater lednian stonefly).

The six snails are the frigid ambersnail, Bearmouth mountainsnail, Byrne Resort mountainsnail, longitudinal gland pyrg, Hamlin Valley pyrg and sub-globose snake pyrg.
In most cases loss of habitat is the primary issue, but climate change is cited as a contributing factor for several species. I have not yet seen a communication directly from the USFWS on this announcement, so I am not sure of the background for all of the species.

Unfortunately the announcement was a case of some steps forward, other steps back, as the USFWS also rejected petitions for nine species, one of which was the Ashy Storm-Petrel. The agency explains its reasoning; the petitioner (the Center for Biological Diversity) critiques the decision.

Brazilian Merganser. Credit: Bird Life InternationalIn other endangered species news, last week I missed an announcement that the USFWS is proposing to list seven Brazilian bird species as endangered.
Addition of a foreign species to the federal list of threatened and endangered species places restrictions on the importation of either the animal or its parts. Listing also serves to heighten awareness of the importance of conserving these species among foreign governments, conservation organizations and the public.

The seven species are all native to the Atlantic Forest and neighboring regions of southeastern Brazil and include the black-hooded antwren, Brazilian merganser, cherry-throated tanager, fringe-backed fire-eye, Kaempfer’s tody-tyrant, Margaretta’s hermit, and southeastern rufous-vented ground-cuckoo.
The agency is seeking comments on the proposed regulation, which can be submitted at for the next 60 days.