The ivory-billed woodpecker, America's largest woodpecker, with a 31-inch wingspan, is extinct, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ending years of lingering hopes that the "Lord God Bird" had survived deep in southern bottomland forests. The ivory-bill was one of 23 species declared extinct on Wednesday, 11 of them birds.
The Interior and Commerce departments said they will rescind or revise five Trump-era regulations that reduced federal protections for endangered and threatened species. The replacement rules would give the same protection to threatened species as endangered ones, and would instruct the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Services to disregard economic impacts when deciding whether a species should go on the endangered list.
Growers in the Klamath Basin, in the Pacific Northwest, will receive the smallest amount of water ever from the federal government due to unrelenting drought, said the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Wednesday. The water will be available around June 1, weeks later than usual.
Three decades ago, a bird census counted fewer than 400 Kirtland's warblers, a small, golden-chested songbird that nests in young jack pine forests in the upper Midwest. On Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the bird from the endangered species list, pointing to a remarkable recovery in population due to work by government, conservationists, land owners and charities.
The Interior and Commerce departments unveiled a proposed retrenchment of the Endangered Species Act that would remove key provisions, such as giving similar protection to species whether they are considered “endangered” or “threatened,” said the Washington Post.
Six Republican bills could change the face of the Endangered Species Act, says High Country News. For example, the Federally Integrated Species Health Act, introduced by California Republican Rep. Ken Calvert, would turn management of endangered salmon species entirely over to the Fish & Wildlife Service. As of now, the National Marine Fisheries Service co-manages endangered salmon with FWS.
A group representing farmers in Washington State and Oregon is urging the Interior Department to convene the “God squad” — an interagency committee empowered to override the Endangered Species Act — over complaints that the act's protections on salmon are hurting growers and others.
In the latest court ruling in a 20-year tussle over gray wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the U.S. Appeals Court for the DC Circuit put the predator back on the endangered species list, says MLive Media Group. The Interior Department delisted the Great Lakes wolves in 2011, saying the wolf population had recovered enough that federal protection was no longer needed and states could take over management of the animals.
GOP leaders in Congress are targeting the Endangered Species Act with new bills in both the House and Senate. "The House Natural Resources Committee discussed five bills whose effects would include allowing the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to use economic costs to deny listing a species as threatened, require the agency to prioritize input in listing decisions from states, remove the gray wolf from the endangered list and limit payouts of attorneys’ fees in Endangered Species Act (ESA) litigation," says The Hill.
The grizzly bear will soon be delisted as an endangered species in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, according to a statement from the Department of the Interior. The area around Yellowstone National Park covers more than 20,000 square miles of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.
Wolves can now by shot on site in 85 percent of Wyoming, after a federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled last month that the animal no longer warrants endangered species protection in the state, says the Casper Star Tribune.
Pesticide makers sent letters to federal regulators asking them to "set aside" agency research into the risks to endangered species from three organophosphate pesticides — chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion — says The Associated Press. Dow Chemical (whose chief executive "is a close adviser" to President Trump), FMC Corp. and Adama, sent letters to the EPA and the Commerce and Interior Departments to argue the studies should not be used.
“I have long advocated public service should be for a limited time and not a lifetime or full career,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, about his decision to not run for re-election. “After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time.”
Environmental groups have filed a federal lawsuit to stop the use of cyanide bombs to kill predators, including grizzly bears and coyotes, on livestock ranches. “One kind of device, called an M-44, is embedded into in the ground and looks like a lawn sprinkler but sprays cyanide when triggered …
A U.S. appeals court in the District of Columbia has ruled that gray wolves will no longer be considered endangered species in Wyoming, years after protections for the animals were lifted in other states, says The Billings Gazette.
The environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council sued the Interior Department for delaying the listing of the rusty patched bumble bee as an endangered species. The listing was supposed to take effect on Feb. 10 but it has been delayed until March 21 under the regulatory freeze announced by the Trump administration.
The Obama administration has granted endangered-species protection to the rusty-patched bumblebee — the first bumblebee in the United States, and the first bee of any kind in the lower 48 states to get the designation, says The New York Times. Seven other bees are listed, but they are all from Hawaii.
The Trump administration will focus on regulatory relief in its early days in office, said two farm-policy hands, who pointed to EPA's Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule as a prime example of federal over-reach. Chuck Conner, of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, said President-elect Trump will be forceful in rolling back regulations, and Dale Moore, of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said the regulatory burden saps farmers' bottom lines.
A bipartisan water bill that includes drought relief for California could be put to a vote in Congress before the end of this week, said House and Senate leaders after agreeing on terms of the $558 million package. California Sen. Barbara Boxer said the bill tramples on the Endangered Species Act in order to divert more water to agriculture at the expense of salmon and the imperiled Delta smelt, said The Associated Press.