Abbott addresses potential listings under Endangered Species Act at WSGAWritten by Saige Albert
Casper – While species like the Greater sage grouse, gray wolf and grizzly bear are readily cited when talking about the Endangered Species Act, Tyler Abbott of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) noted that there are a number of less-known species that are facing the potential for listing.
“Invertebrates – also known as bugs – often don’t quite make the headlines,” said Abbott. “We have had several proposals for listing in the last year.”
The first step in a listing process is a 90-day finding. The finding provides a “low bar” for whether or not a closer look should be taken at the species, he said. A positive finding means that the FWS must do a 12-month finding, which determines whether a species is warranted for listing or not.
“The Monarch butterfly did have a substantial 90-day finding in December,” Abbott said. “Although Wyoming is listed for the Monarch, we don’t know hardly anything about Monarchs in Wyoming.”
While data on Monarch sightings have been solicited, Abbott noted that there are no confirmed findings of the Monarch butterfly in Wyoming.
“It looks to me that Wyoming is in the middle of two migrations – one on the West Coast and one in the center of the U.S.,” Abbott said. “At this point, there is little information, so this 12-month finding will be an education for all of us.”
The Fritillary butterfly also had a substantial 90-day finding that was released in September.
“There was enough information regarding its decline for a 12-month finding,” Abbott explained. “It has undergone a drastic decline since 1980.”
The range of the butterfly is in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri, although Abbott noted that Wyoming may fall within its range.
“Wyoming is on the western edge of the range,” he continued. “It lives in tall grass prairie habitat and is found in the Midwest. That finding is underway.”
Next, Abbott noted that a 90-day finding for the narrow-footed diving beetle is expected to be published soon.
“This beetle tends to occur in perennial stream habitat, streams areas and standing water pools that have water year-round,” he explained. “The bugs tend to like overhanging vegetation for at least part of their lifecycle.”
Abbott noted that the species has been seen in 10 documented occurrences in Fremont, Natrona and Johnson counties, but the beetles are very hard to identify.
“That calls into question whether we have documented sightings,” he said. “If the 90-day finding is positive, it will be an opportunity to learn more, but if it is negative, we don’t have to take the next step.”
A petition for a 90-day finding for the western bumblebee was received by FWS in September, which is underway.
“The western bumblebee demonstrates a precipitous decline over the last 20 to 30 years,” Abbott commented. “Being a West-wide, multi-state evaluation, I think the problem areas are in the Pacific Northwest, which was what prompted the petition to list.”
“These 90-day findings are a low bar,” Abbott added. “If there are certain areas where the species have undergone precipitous declines, then we will do a 12-month evaluation. When that occurs is open to question.”
In addition to these four findings, Abbott commented that FWS has a number of other priorities.
Abbott addressed the attendees of the 2015 Wyoming Stock Growers Association Winter Roundup Wildlife Committee meeting on Dec. 1.