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Potential ESA changes could affect threatened species

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A proposed rule that would change a provision of the Endangered Species Act that has been used for 40 years to apply protections to threatened species is reportedly under consideration by the Interior Department. Called the “blanket 4(d) rule,” the provision extends most protections offered to endangered species to threatened species, essentially treating both groups of species the same. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crafted the blanket rule in 1978 to extend to threatened species a range of protections, including prohibitions on sale and transport of listed species along with a ban on take of these species. Take is defined by the law as to “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect” or attempt to do any of these. The proposed rule change would affect how the USFWS implements Section 4(d) of the ESA. That section allows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to establish special regulations to protect threatened species based on their individual conservation needs, rather than prohibit all take as is done for species listed as endangered. USFWS occasionally creates a special 4(d) rule to allow certain actions that may result in take of a threatened species [...]

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