Citizen Staff Writer
ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN
The Associated Press
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday it is soliciting information to update the status of 23 endangered or threatened species in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
Spokesman Jeff Humphrey said the Endangered Species Act requires a review of listed plant and animal species every five years to see whether the classifications are still accurate or whether additional action, including full-fledged status reviews, are needed.
A new batch of species is reviewed every year.
State wildlife agency or university scientists usually provide the information, but the general public frequently contributes too, said Humphrey, who is based in Phoenix.
Information must be submitted by May 12.
“Sometimes what we get from the public is their awareness of increased threat,” he said. For example, if a county has slated a highway to go through a certain area, that might affect an animal’s migratory route.
Fish and Wildlife staffers who track various endangered or threatened species might not automatically know of potential threats from such projects, he added.
“Particularly in the area of threats, sometimes citizens have provided us good heads-up,” Humphrey said.
In addition, he said there is an increasing emphasis on citizen science – such as bird counts and surveys conducted by private citizens keyed to shifts in the behavior, migration or habitat patterns of animals and plants.
Such efforts, he said, “are becoming more and more relevant to us as we look at more long-term pictures of species,” Humphrey said.
He cited work being done by the USA National Phenology Network involving federal agencies, academic institutions and citizen scientists. The University of Arizona-based project studies changes in plant and animal life cycle events influenced by climate change.
Humphrey said the review itself won’t result in a change of status for any listed species but could trigger a full-blown review of the listing, for instance to evaluate the recovery plan being used.
Among the protected species under review this year are the Gila chub (a fish), masked bobwhite quail, Mexican long-nosed bat and the Texas poppy-mallow, a wildflower.
Feds seeking endangered species update information