The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the comment period on its proposal to list the red knot as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service proposed to list the knot on September 30, 2013, following an analysis of the best available data in more than 1,400 scientific documents. The public can provide comments on the proposed rule for 45 days through May 19, 2014.
The rufa red knot (Calidris canutus rufa), a robin-sized shorebird that visits the U.S. on its annual journey between the tips of the Americas. According to US Fish & Wildlife, it is “in trouble.”
During the initial comment period, the Service received more than 560 individual comments and 19,000 form letters. Public hearings, preceded by information sessions and opportunities to ask questions to Service biologists, will be held May 6, 2014, in Morehead City, N.C., and in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The Service expects to take final action on the listing rule by the end of September 2014. As required by the ESA, the Service is also reviewing the U.S. range of the knot to identify areas that are essential for its conservation, called critical habitat. Critical habitat focuses the coordination of federal agencies, which are directed by the ESA to aid in the conservation of listed species. Examples of factors for determining species’ critical habitat include where it occurs and how often, and the most important defined areas that support its biological needs such as feeding or resting. For the knot, these elements may include sand dunes and wide, open beaches for roosting and habitat supporting prey like small clams. The Service expects to publish a separate rule proposing critical habitat in 2014.
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