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Service Designates Jaguar Critical Habitat in Arizona and New Mexico

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the final designation of approximately 764, 207 acres of critical habitat for the jaguar (Panthera onca) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This habitat is found within Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties in Arizona, and Hidalgo County in New Mexico. The final rule takes effect on April 4, 2014.

Read more: Service Designates Jaguar Critical Habitat in Arizona and New Mexico

Barred owls replacing spotted owls in Pacific Northwest

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – An increase in the barred owl population is contributing to the decline of threatened Northern spotted owls, according to models developed by U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service scientists.

The larger barred owl is considered to be a more aggressive competitor, with higher reproductive capacity as well as a more diverse diet and use of habitat. In the face of increasing barred owl populations and declining habitat, the medium size Northern spotted owl, which lives in old growth forests of northern California and the Pacific Northwest of the United States, is declining.

Read more: Barred owls replacing spotted owls in Pacific Northwest

Sage Grouse ESA Listing Questioned

Chairman Hastings Questions Interior Department on Potentially Economically Devastating Sage-Grouse Endangered Species Listing

WASHINGTON D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) today sent a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe raising concerns of scientific integrity and the imposition of arbitrary deadlines surrounding the decision to potentially list the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The letter requests detailed documents and information concerning the science supporting sage-grouse listing, the planning strategies for sage-grouse conservation, the Obama Administration’s lack of deference to state conservation and other information that has resulted from the Obama Administration’s 2011 closed door, multi-species ESA settlement with litigious groups.

Read more: Sage Grouse ESA Listing Questioned

USFWS Proposes to List Wolverines as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act

Proposed Rule would not affect recreation, timber harvest or other activities if species is listed as threatened

DENVER, CO (Feb 1, 2013) -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today, in response to a court-ordered deadline, that it is seeking information from the scientific community and the public on a proposal to protect the North American wolverine as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service is also seeking comment on two proposed special rules designed to facilitate management and recovery of the species should it receive protection.

An estimated 250 to 300 wolverines now occur in the lower 48 states, where the species has rebounded after broad-scale predator trapping and poisoning programs led to its near extinction in the early 1900s. This was in part due to the states protecting the species from unregulated trapping.

Read more: USFWS Proposes to List Wolverines as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act

New study shows stable fisher population in the Southern Sierra Nevada

Fisher with Hooded Merganser, Copyright Susan C. Morse, used by permission.
Fisher with Hooded Merganser.
Copyright Susan C. Morse, used by permission.

ARCATA, Calif.—After experiencing years of population decline on the West Coast, a recent study examining fisher populations found that—at least in the southern Sierra Nevada—the animal's numbers appear to be stable.

Scientists from the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) and the Pacific Southwest Region collaborated to monitor the distribution of fishers across a 7,606-square-mile area in the southern Sierra Nevada. They used baited track-plate stations—an enclosure where the fisher leaves a sooted track print as it walks through—at 223 locations across three national forests. Over an eight-year period, from 2002-2009, they found that the fisher population in the southern Sierra Nevada neither increased nor decreased.

The findings are relatively good news for the cat-sized relative of the weasel family. The forest-dwelling fisher (Martes pennanti) once lived throughout most of the mountains in northern California and the Sierra Nevada, and in the Rocky Mountains, Cascades and Coast ranges. But many populations were eliminated or declined due to commercial trapping and clear-cut timber harvesting. Fishers have been reintroduced at a few locations in the western U.S., but only two native populations—both centered in California—remain. The small population of fishers in the southern Sierra has been estimated, by other methods, to be approximately 250 individuals.

Read more: New study shows stable fisher population in the Southern Sierra Nevada

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