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Service Makes Four 90-Day Findings And Initiates Status Reviews Of Two Species – Environmental Law



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On August 23, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service)
issued a notice in response to petitions seeking to
list, delist, or revise the critical habitat of four species under
the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service found the petitions
to list the Fish Lake Valley tui chub (Siphateles
bicolor ssp. 4
) and to delist the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris
nereis
) “present substantial scientific or commercial
information indicating that the petitioned actions may be
warranted,” and are therefore initiating status reviews to
determine whether to list and delist the species, respectively. The
Service also found the petitions to list the Pryor Mountain mustang population (Equus
caballus
) and to revise the critical habitat designation for
Sonora chub (Gila ditaenia) do not
present substantial information indicating the petitioned actions
may be warranted and are therefore not initiating status reviews
for those two species.

Section 4 of the ESA requires the Service to
make a finding in response to a petition to list or delist a
species as endangered or threatened under the ESA within 90 days of
whether that petition “presents substantial scientific or
commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be
warranted.” If the Service finds the action may be warranted,
it must initiate a status review of the species and issue a finding
within 12 months indicating whether the action is warranted or not
warranted. If warranted, the Service must publish in the Federal
Register its plans to initiate the petitioned action, indicate the
petitioned action is precluded by other regulatory proposals, or
indicate the petitioned action is no longer necessary.

The Service considers a number of factors in determining whether
a petitioned action may be warranted. For the Fish Lake Valley tui
chub, the Service determined listing may be warranted based on the
present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of
its habitat or range caused by agriculture, encroachment of aquatic
plants, geothermal energy, and lithium mining, and on the threats
climate change and stochastic events pose to its continued
existence. The Service’s finding with respect to the southern
sea otter was based on cited sources in the petition demonstrating
a reduction of threats to its habitat curtailment and declining
frequency of oil spills. For the Pryor Mountain mustang population
and the Sonora chub, the Service concluded the petitions did not
present substantial information indicating the petitioned action
may be warranted.

With the Service’s finding on the Fish Lake Valley tui chub
and the southern sea otter, the agency requests from the public
scientific and commercial data and other information that could
inform whether listing or delisting is warranted.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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