Tomorrow the United States Fish and Wildlife Service will announce that it intends to reclassify the Arroyo Toad from endangered down to threatened, since the factors that originally led to listing this amphibian under the Endangered Species Act have abated to the degree that it is no longer in danger of extinction. Similar to recent announcements on the Modoc Sucker, the Tidewater Goby, and two Eureka Valley plant species, this notice is the result of several years of dogged litigation by Pacific Legal Foundation.
Rather than repeat the details for the Arroyo Toad, it is worth noting the pattern into which this action fits. Species are listed, frequently based on incomplete information. Then, the Service fails to conduct status reviews which the ESA requires. Then, when forced to do the status reviews, the Service ignores its own reclassification recommendations. Then, when PLF petitions the Service for action, the Service violates the time limits within which to act on the petition, and a lawsuit is necessary to compel a decision.
This announcement is good, but it is five years overdue. The Service should reform its practices, to combine a reclassification proposal with each status review that recommends downlisting or delisting.