USFWS Lists of Rusty Patched Bumble Bee
On March 21, 2017 the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This is the first bee species to be listed by the USFWS, a species that occurs mostly in the Midwest and eastern United States as well as parts of Canada.
Additional information on the listing can be found here: https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/insects/rpbb/services-aerial-survey-and-telemetry
WEST Publications: Sage Grouse and Wind Energy
“Greater sage-grouse habitat selection, survival, and wind energy infrastructure.” was recently published in the Journal of Wildlife Management. The publication, co-authored by WEST’s Chad LeBeau, Greg Johnson, Ryan Nielson, Mandy Kauffman and Trent McDonald, monitored 346 female greater sage-grouse via telemetry from 2009 to 2014 in southeastern Wyoming, within a control area and an area influenced by a wind energy development to estimate the potential effects of wind energy infrastructure on greater sage-grouse habitat selection and demography.
You can access the publication here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jwmg.21231/full .
WEST Reports: 2016 Summer Western Wide Golden Eagle Study Available
Results of the ongoing Summer Western-wide Golden Eagle Survey from 2016 are now available. WEST has performed this survey for the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the past 12 years, the survey includes observer crews flying small, fixed-wing aircraft across four Bird Conservation Regions in twelve states, with over 17,000 km of transects. This report offers an estimate of the total number of golden eagles living in the western US.
USFWS Lists Rusty Patched Bumble Bee
On March 21, 2017 the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The species occurs mostly in the Midwest and eastern United States as well as parts of Canada.
USFWS Announces Proposed Rule Regarding Black-Capped Vireo De-listing
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced a proposed rule to remove the black-capped vireo from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The black-capped vireo is a songbird that breeds and nests in Oklahoma and Texas and northernmost Mexico.
The USFWS is seeking public comments regarding the proposed de-listing. Comments must be received on or by February 13, 2017.
WEST ecologists have extensive experience with the black-capped vireo and are available to discuss any questions regarding the potential effects of the proposed delisting for active and planned projects.
USFWS Announces Final Changes to Eagle Permit Regulations
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has issued its final changes to the regulations for eagle nonpurposeful take permits (now called incidental take permits) and eagle nest take permits. It includes changes to the permit term and issuance criteria, permit costs, preservation standards, practicability standards, public reporting requirements, compensatory mitigation, and survey/monitoring standards.
The complete final rule is published and available in the Federal Register.
Our eagle team has evaluated the new rule and is available to help review and adapt eagle management strategies.
WEST Publications: Golden Eagle Distribution
“Modeling Late-Summer Distribution of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in the Western United States” was released recently in PLOS ONE. WEST’s Ryan Nielson is lead author on the publication that helps to identify areas of major importance to the golden eagle. The authors estimated eagle abundance based on aerial line-transect surveys that WEST conducted from 2006-2010, and modeled the density of golden eagles using a technique that associates landscape-level characteristics with abundance. Evidence was found of positive relationships between intensity of use by golden eagles and elevation, solar radiation, and wind speed. Additionally, they found a negative relationship with areas of developed and forested land. A map was developed from the model to predict intensity of use by golden eagles during late summer across the study area. This work can help prioritize landscapes for conservation, identify where mitigation may be most effective, and identify key areas for additional research.
The publication is on PLOS ONE here: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0159271
The publication has been featured in several news stories as well:
USFWS Draft Midwest Wind Energy Mutli-species HCP and Draft EIS
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released the Draft Midwest Wind Energy Multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on April 14. The documents address activities with wind power development throughout Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. The covered species include six federally listed species of birds and bats, one bat species that may be listed, and bald eagles. These documents are available for public review and comment through July 14, 2016.
Northern Long-Eared Bat 4(d) Rule
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced a final 4(d) rule for the northern long-eared bat (NLEB) , which was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on April 2, 2015. The final 4(d) rule was published in the Federal Register on January 13, 2016, and went into effect on February 16, 2016, 30 days after it was published in the Federal Register. The final rule exempts all development activities from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) take prohibition, within and outside of the White Nose Syndrome (WNS) Zone, except incidental take resulting from tree clearing under the following two conditions: 1) clearing activity within a 0.25 mile radius of a known NLEB hibernacula, and 2) tree clearing resulting in the cutting or destruction of any trees within a 150-foot radius from a known maternity tree during the pup rearing period (June 1 through July 31).
WEST Provides Consulting and Technical Services for Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat Bank
WEST was contracted by the Sweetwater River Conservancy to provide wildlife and statistical consulting and technical services in the development of a Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat Conservation Bank on over 55,000 deeded acres in central Wyoming. The bank was approved by the USFWS in December 2014. Not only is this the first conservation bank for greater sage-grouse, it is the largest habitat conservation bank in the U.S. WEST prepared the initial Conservation Bank Agreement (CBA) and worked with the bank development team to finalize the CBA and gain approval of the bank. WEST trapped and attached radio transmitters to 125 female sage-grouse on the bank project area.
The resulting habitat use data from these 125 birds, along with data from previous sage-grouse radio-telemetry studies on the bank lands, were used to develop a Resource Selection Function analysis to quantify and map sage-grouse habitat quality across the bank. WEST used these maps to calculate the number of “credits” available for purchase from the mitigation bank for mitigating unavoidable impacts to sage-grouse elsewhere within Wyoming. WEST also prepared a Ranch Management Plan for ranches included within the bank to ensure that ranch management activities were compatible with sage-grouse conservation. The management plan included prescriptions to enhance sage-grouse habitat quality.