Recovery plans updated for 42 species

By Laura Bies

The USFWS is updating the recovery plan for the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit. ©Dixon and H. Ulmschneider

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has updated recovery plans developed under the Endangered Species Act to ensure that the recovery criteria are measurable and quantifiable. The update involves 26 recovery plans covering 42 species of animals and plants, which have recently undergone or are undergoing a five-year status review based on the best available scientific information.

Just over 1,600 U.S. species are listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA, and almost 1,200 of these have active recovery plans. These guidance documents include recovery objectives, prioritize recovery actions and outline an expected timeline for recovery. In 2010, the Service developed guidance that allows it to revise recovery plans based on new scientific information without having to formally revise the plan in its entirety, as would otherwise by required by law.

The current plan updates are part of a larger effort by the USFWS to update as many as 182 recovery plans covering 305 species over the next 12 months to ensure they include quantitative and measurable recovery criteria.

The changes to the 26 plans in this first wave of updates will include “additional science and information on species’ biology, habitat, distribution, analyses of threats, responses to management actions, and additional requirements for achieving recovery,” according to the USWFS. Species include the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit (Brachylagusidahoensis), Hawaiian petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis) and Townsend’s shearwater (Puffinus auricularis). The full list of updated recovery plans and the species involved in each can be found in the USFWS’ press release.

The USFWS is accepting comments on the proposed recovery plan amendments through April 1, 2019. It is particularly interested in information that will help it achieve “(1) the necessary understanding of species’ biology, threats and recovery needs; (2) identification of implementation issues and concerns; and (3) facilitation of more effective implementation, associated with these draft amendments that revise recovery criteria for these 42 species.”

Read TWS’ position on Threatened and Endangered Species.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

Share your thoughts on this article, and others, on our Facebook and Twitter pages.