The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has completed 90-day findings on petitions to list three species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Based on expert review, the FWS finds that the petitions to list the thick-leaf bladderpod and variable cuckoo bumblebee present substantial information that the petitioned actions may be warranted, and officials will initiate status reviews for these species.
FWS finds that the petition to recognize the Texas population of the ocelot as a distinct population segment (DPS) and to list that DPS does not present substantial information that this action may be warranted. As a result, the FWS will not be taking further action on it.
The ocelot is a medium-sized cat, measuring up to three feet in length and is covered with irregular-shaped rosettes and spots that run the length of its body. Ocelots are solitary hunters, feeding on rodents, rabbits, reptiles and birds. Ocelots were listed as endangered under the ESA in 1972 range-wide, including both U.S. and foreign populations.
The Texas population has been the target of decades of active recovery efforts and this decision will not alter ESA status or protections for ocelots in the U.S. This population encompasses a minor portion of the species’ range that stretches into Central and South America. In reviewing the information in the petition, we found that the Texas ocelot population does not meet the required significance element to be considered as a DPS.
The variable cuckoo was once found in 47 states and is currently found in 35 states, as well as Ontario, Canada and Mexico.
The FWS found that the petitioners presented credible evidence that the petitioned action may be warranted due to the loss of the host species, the American bumblebee. Cuckoo bumblebees do not produce workers of their own but instead female cuckoo bumblebees take over colonies of a host bumblebee. Its host workers then gather pollen and nectar for the cuckoo bumble bee’s larvae.
Female variable cuckoo bumblebees no longer have the specialized hairs to collect pollen on their own and cannot survive or reproduce without the American bumblebee host. In 2021, the Service determined the American bumblebee may be warranted for listing under the ESA and would move forward with a full status review of the species.
The thick-leaf bladderpod is a small, yellow-flowered vascular plant known from the Pryor Mountain Desert in Carbon County in Montana and Big Horn County in Wyoming.
The primary threat is a gypsum exploration project proposed within the largest subpopulation. Mining exploration activities may result in unavoidable impacts to the species through direct mortality, disturbance, invasive species introduction, and upgraded access roads. The FWS will evaluate all potential threats during a scientifically rigorous 12-month status review.
The ESA allows citizens to petition the FWS to add species to the ESA list, remove species from the list, and to reclassify species already on the list. To the maximum extent possible, the FWS issues a finding on a petition within 90 days of the petition’s receipt.
Substantial 90-day findings represent a relatively low bar, requiring only that the petitioner provide information that the petitioned action may be warranted. The next steps involve in-depth status reviews and analyses using the best available science and information to arrive at a 12-month finding.
The notice for the above findings will be available in the Federal Register Reading Room on February 7, 2022 at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection on the 2021 Notices link under Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.
For more information on the ESA listing process, including 90-day findings and status reviews, please go to www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf.