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Spring Pygmy Sunfish Update

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#1 Guest_fundulus_*

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 04:23 PM

In today's edition of the Huntsville Times the lead front page story is on the status of the Spring Pygmy Sunfish(!). Mike Sandel gets quoted at length which is good since he knows more about the species than anyone else. NANFA also gets a mention as having written a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in support of the species being given protection under the Endangered Species Act. There might be some movement so that some local landowners offer more explicit protection to the unusual spring system that the species requires. Here's the link: Huntsville Times story.

#2 Guest_Drew_*

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 05:21 PM

That is great to hear Bruce. It is sad that it took a threat to sue for action to be taken.

Here is a link to USFWS release : http://www.fws.gov/s...011/11-031.html.

#3 Guest_fundulus_*

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 06:56 PM

Thanks, Drew. I've been following the Federal Register for news from the FWS, I hadn't seen that press release. I'm in happy shock that the FWS may agree with us.

#4 Guest_fritz_*

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 01:21 PM

That news release is a joke. It took a threatened lawsuit to get them moving. plus this statement:

"The Service will now undertake a more thorough status review of the species throughout its entire range to determine whether to propose it for listing under the ESA."

Duh! Perhaps they should read their own release: "Currently, only one known population remains inhabiting a five-mile section of a spring-fed stream in Limestone County"

another link:


It took them over 1.5 years to conduct a 90 day finding.

Way to persevere Mike and CBD.


#5 Guest_fundulus_*

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 03:26 PM

I'm afraid you're right...

#6 Guest_fundulus_*

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 12:05 PM

I just received a postcard from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the status of the Spring Pygmy Sunfish. The first sentence reads:

"On April 1, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish an announcement, in the Federal Register, of a positive 90-day finding on a petition to list the spring pygmy sunfish as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (Act)". The link to this is here on the Federal Register, and scroll down to April 1.

You can look for Docket Number FWS-R4-ES-2010-0007 for specific information being handled by the office of the FWS in Jackson, Mississippi.

So I guess the spring pygmy will really be listed as Endangered, once and for all. I hope that this will really help the species, which of course needs all the help it can get.

#7 Guest_kalawatseti_*

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 12:27 PM

So I guess the spring pygmy will really be listed as Endangered, once and for all.

Really? My understanding is that the 90-day finding (see attached) merely says that the Service will initiate a status review. If listing is warranted, the Service will either: a) say work on the species is "precluded by higher-priority listing actions" and place the species on the candidate list, which is kind of like an endangered species purgatory where nothing happens for a long, long time; b) propose an endangered or threatened listing, which will likely take year another of review and comment before a final listing is issued; or c) say the species deserves protection but that other, existing conservation actions are sufficient to keep it from going extinct without federal monies and/or intervention.


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Edited by kalawatseti, 08 April 2011 - 12:27 PM.

#8 Guest_fundulus_*

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 12:33 PM

Sure, the ol' warranted but precluded option is still on the table. I'm still pleasantly surprised that they'll even go this far, since several FWS biologists were so against ANY action in recent years on the grounds that it would just piss off some of the landowners.

#9 Guest_wargreen_*

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 09:09 PM

It makes me very proud to be a member of Nanfa after we sent the letter to the US fish and wildlife service......even if we dont win and the Spring pygmy sunfish is not saved, we will have at least given it our best shot.

#10 Guest_sschluet_*

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 07:41 PM

You are correct on the possible outcomes.

Edit- Also we should consider what the USFWS Endangered Species folks are tasked with, as I know the ES folks in our office are buried in work. I think there are close to 100 species currently under review in the Eastern US. The biologists that are tasked with the reviews also have existing responsiblities to the currently listed species as well as threats to those species (project reviews, permits, etc).

Edited by sschluet, 12 April 2011 - 08:01 PM.

#11 Guest_fundulus_*

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 08:10 PM

You're right, Scott, the government has grossly underfunded this kind of work almost since the beginning of the ESA. And I'm sure you know that's why so many suits are filed in attempts to compel the government to allocate more resources for status assessment, since courts can order the government to spend the money to do so. It's not a great system that way, and can yield all sorts of half-baked remedies such as "warranted but precluded". But it's the only game in town.

#12 Guest_sschluet_*

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 06:41 AM


SCIENCE | April 21, 2011
Wildlife at Risk Face Long Line at U.S. Agency By TODD WOODY
The Fish and Wildlife Service is struggling with an avalanche of petitions and lawsuits over the endangered species list.


#13 Guest_ashtonmj_*

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 07:47 AM

In a way, doesn't this point out that these mass listings via law suit, like the CBD taking Jelks et al. 2008 and saying all these should be listed, could potentially stall the conservation of other species and at risk species in general? I see the current listing process with its lack of funding and staff as a slow but steady moving manufacturing line, and these mass listing petitions are basically like dumping a train load of mixed parts onto the line, which basically causes the process to shut down.

#14 Guest_fundulus_*

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 10:14 AM

Yes, there is truth to that. But then what do you do if you have reason to believe that there really are that many species that need protection? The current congress is partially controlled by yahoos trying to override the ESA by legislation, such as delisting wolves in the west. So it's a safe bet that FWS won't receive more money for ESA administration, meaning that a broad front of litigation becomes the best (only?) option. It's not great, but is certainly very stark.

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