U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Finalizes Changes to Voluntary Endangered Species Act Programs and Related Permitting Process

On Friday, April 12, 2024, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) issued a Final Rule making changes to 50 CFR part 13 to clarify and expedite the process for issuing enhancement of survival permits and incidental take permits pursuant to Section 10(a)(1)(A) and (B), respectively, of the Endangered Species Act. The regulatory changes are intended to provide the Service greater flexibility in implementing the permitting process and generate greater conservation results by encouraging additional engagement in voluntary programs associated with these permits, including safe harbor agreements (SHAs), candidate conservation agreements with assurances (CCAAs), and habitat conservation plans (HCPs).


U.S. Endangered Listing for Northern Long-Eared Bat

On November 30, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a Final Rule reclassifying the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and updating the bat’s range to 43 states. The Service did respond favorably to commenters’ request for guidance on activities that would or would not affect the bat and for additional resources to assist regulated entities and regulators with consultation and permitting activities. These include the following:


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Propose to List Northern Long-Eared Bat as Endangered Species

On Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed to reclassify the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), a bat species found in 38 U.S. states or territories, as an endangered species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (Act). The Service’s proposed reclassification is a direct response to a federal judge’s court order requiring the Service to revisit its previous listing decision and account for the impact of white nose syndrome (WNS), a disease-causing fungal infection that ultimately results in mortality. The heightened listing for the species is very likely to affect ongoing and future development over a large geographic region, given the species’ range outside of areas affected by WNS. (more…)

Ninth Circuit Approves U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Barred Owls vs. Spotted Owls Experiment

On March 4, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in Friends of Animals v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and FWS’ experimental plan that authorizes certain individuals to kill barred owls, a species of owls that has encroached on the northern spotted owls’ habitat. Primarily in the Pacific Northwest, the northern spotted owl has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since June 26, 1990. 55 Fed. Reg. 26114. On December 15, 2020, FWS released its 12-month finding for the northern spotted owl that precluded reclassifying the species from threatened to endangered. (more…)