Thursday, August 18, 2011

ESA Protection for Foreign Bird Species

Slender-billed Curlew
Last week the US Fish and Wildlife Service added several birds that occur mainly outside the United States to the Endangered Species List. Such listings mainly serve to enforce trade restrictions, though they may have other benefits such as funding or coordination of conservation activities for their recovery.

The first decision involved four parrot species:
The Service finds that listing the Philippine and yellow-crested cockatoo as endangered, and listing the white cockatoo as threatened, is warranted and is issuing proposed rules to list these species. In addition, the Service is proposing a special rule for the white cockatoo. If adopted, the proposed special rule would allow import, export and interstate commerce of certain white cockatoos without a permit under the ESA, provided the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) are met. The Service finds that listing is not warranted for the crimson shining parrot. The not warranted status for the crimson shining parrot is a final agency action.
The second batch included six other species:
The rule implements federal protections provided by the ESA for the Cantabrian capercaillie, Marquesan imperial pigeon, Eiao Marquesas reed-warbler, greater adjutant, Jerdon’s courser, and slender-billed curlew. Populations of each of these species are small, fragmented, and declining, making them particularly vulnerable to genetic threats associated with small populations and extinction....

Significant threats to these six foreign bird species include habitat loss, overutilization and inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms. Information on climate change was available for only one species, the slender-billed curlew; based on this information the Service found climate change to be a potential threat to this species.

Miami Blue / NPS
The listing activity included emergency listings for several butterflies with restricted ranges, including the endemic Miami Blue. An emergency listing protects a species for 240 days, during which time the agency has time to draft and publish a final listing.
The Miami blue is a small, coastal, non-migratory butterfly endemic to south Florida. Its geographic range once extended from the Dry Tortugas north along the Florida coasts to about St. Petersburg and Daytona, but it is now restricted to a few, small, remote islands within the Florida Keys. In making this emergency listing determination, the Service has carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats faced by the Miami blue butterfly....

The Miami blue butterfly is endangered due to the combined influences of habitat destruction and modification, herbivory of host plants by exotic green iguanas, accidental harm from humans, loss of genetic diversity, and catastrophic environmental events, such as hurricanes. Because of its small population size and restricted range, collection can severely impact the Miami blue.

Imminent threats now pose significant risk to the survival of the Miami blue. The Service believes emergency listing is necessary and, in this case, the normal listing timeframe is insufficient to prevent losses that may result in extinction. In addition, the Service has determined that designation of critical habitat for the Miami blue butterfly is not prudent because publishing maps and descriptions of critical habitat areas would widely announce the exact location of the butterfly to poachers, collectors, and vandals and may further facilitate disturbance and destruction of the butterfly’s habitat.
Emergency listings will also protect the Cassius Blue, Ceraunus Blue, and Nickerbean Blue butterflies, despite their wide ranges due to their similar appearance to the Miami Blue.