The California Endangered Species Act charges the California Department of Fish and Wildlife with the task of conducting status reviews for endangered and threatened species at least once every five years. The Department has listed 235 species as endangered or threatened for more than five years. It has only conducted status reviews for two of them.
The Department’s abdication of its duty to perform the status reviews, as mandated by the CESA, is plainly to the detriment of California citizens. Periodic status reviews safeguard property owners from needless fines and penalties. And they ensure that taxpayer money isn’t wasted on administering recovery plans for species erroneously listed as threatened or endangered.
As an example, seven of the species listed under the CESA have already been reclassified or recommended for reclassification by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service under the Federal ESA. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has not conducted status reviews for any of those species within the last five years, and has no idea whether reclassification is also appropriate under California law.
PLF has had success getting the federal government to conduct mandatory status reviews of species listed under the federal ESA. Today we filed a lawsuit against the Department to compel it to conduct status reviews in accordance with California law. The law requires the Department to conduct five-year status reviews for all listed species; two out of 235 is just not good enough.