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Comment Period Extended for Greater Sage Grouse


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A male greater sage grouse displays in Butte County, South Dakota. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  has extended the comment period for its proposed rule to list a portion of the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (Credit: Steve Fairbairn, USFWS)

A male greater sage grouse displays in Butte County, South Dakota. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has extended the comment period for its proposed rule to list a portion of the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (Credit: Steve Fairbairn, USFWS)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently announced the extension of the public comment period on the proposed rule to list the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act with a special rule.

FWS is also re-opening the comment period on the proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the grouse. The deadline for FWS to make a final determination on the bird’s status has now been extended six months and is due April 28, 2015.

FWS is taking the above actions because of “substantial disagreement” about population trends and threats, interpretation of existing population data, and the existence of scientific literature that was not used in their initial analysis.

The Bi-State DPS, covering parts of California and Nevada, was originally proposed for listing in October 2013 because of threats to the population including invasive plants, habitat fragmentation due to renewable energy and urban development, mining, and climate change. FWS found in 2010 that the entire 11-state population warranted protection under the ESA, but further action was precluded by species facing more immediate and severe extinction threats.

Written comments must be submitted by June 9, 2014 using one of the following two methods:
(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R8-ES-2013-0072 (proposed listing) or FWS-R8-ES-2013-0042 (proposed critical habitat), which are the docket numbers for these rulemakings. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate the document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”

(2) By hard copy for the proposed listing: Submit by U.S. mail or hand delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2013-0072; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203. By hard copy for the proposed critical habitat: Submit by U.S. mail or hand delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2013-0042; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

Sources: Federal Register (April 8, 2014), Energy and Environment Daily (April 9, 2014), FWS (accessed April, 2014)

Related TWS articles: New Baseline Environmental Report on the Greater Sage Grouse Released (June, 2013), BLM Failed to Analyze Grazing Impacts to Sage-Grouse, Judge Rules (March 2012), BLM to Increase Sage-Grouse Protections (September 2011), Gateway West Transmission Line Project a Potential Threat to Sage-Grouse (October 2011), WY Governor Maintains Core Sage-Grouse Habitat (July 2011), BLM Expands Sage Grouse Protections in Wyoming (December 2008).



This article was automatically imported from The Wildlife Society's policy news feed.

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