The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 provides for the conservation of species that are endangered or threatened, and the ecosystems on which they depend. Compliance with the ESA can represent a significant regulatory challenge for many projects, so keeping up-do-date with changes in the ESA program can help achieve a successful project.

The service announces initial findings on 29 ESA petitions. Thirteen of the petitions do not present substantial information to warrant action. The other 16 resulted in substantial findings, which is just the first of many rigorous steps to ultimately determine if a species should be listed or delisted. Some of the pertinent species under consideration are:

  1. American burying beetle – petition to delist. The American Burying Beetle was
    originally listed as endangered in 1989. Based on the petition submitted, there is substantial information indicating delisting the species may be warranted based on the lack of threats to the species.
  2. Leoncita false-foxglove. This plant is proposed for listing as threatened or endangered and is only known in two locations in West Texas and New Mexico. Threats to this species include drawdown of the aquifer for water use, waterfowl management, and invasive species. Its listing could have serious implications to local farmers and ranchers that utilize water from the aquifer for irrigation and other uses.
  3. Rio Grande Chub. This small fish was petitioned to be listed as threatened and endangered. This could impact the watershed of the Rio Grande River which includes significant portions of West Texas and New Mexico. Learn more.

On March 10, 2016, the Louisiana Black Bear was removed from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The service credited partnerships between states, private landowners, conservation groups, universities, and federal agencies in the recovery and delisting of the species. The majority of the species habitat is on private lands, mostly farmland that is difficult to farm and/or unproductive. Farmers voluntarily restored nearly 500,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forests in priority conservation areas. Learn more.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has revised the process for submitting Endangered Species Act (ESA) petitions. Under the ESA, anyone can submit a petition to list or delist a species. There are guidelines for submitting a petition, but some improvements were implemented as part of a broader agenda by the Obama administration to improve the effectiveness of the ESA. These improvements include:

  1. Improved engagement by state wildlife agencies. Petitioners are required to send notification to their state wildlife agency before submitting the petition to the service. This provided states an opportunity to submit pertinent information.
  2. Improved quality of petitions. Petitioners no longer have to certify that they gathered all relevant information on the petitioned species.
  3. Clarification of the number of species per petition. It is clarified that petitions are to be limited to only one species. Learn more.

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About the author

Kate Lindekugel
Kate Lindekugel
As an environmental scientist, Kate has more than 13 years of experience including ecological surveys and field studies, functional assessments, preparing environmental reports and permits, data management, stream channel and wetland restoration, peer reviewed research, and coordinating with local, state, and federal regulatory agencies, as well as public and private stakeholders.