November 6, 2013

Service proposes to delist California bird as a result of PLF litigation

By Brian T. Hodges Senior Attorney

On Monday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to remove the Inyo California towhee from the federal endangered species list.  The towhee—a small desert bird—will soon have the distinction of being numbered among the few species that have been delisted since the ESA was enacted 40 years ago.

The towhee decision highlights the difficult process of removing a species from the list, even when the species does not warrant federal protection.  The Service knew that the towhee should not be on the list as early as 2008, when it issued a status review recommending delisting.  As is common practice, however, the agency did not act on its own recommendation.  PLF filed a petition and lawsuit to prod the Service into properly administering the ESA and delisting the towhee.

The Service will accept comments on the proposal until January 3.

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