The Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition (NESARC) are currently reviewing a new policy released by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service that would define the key phrase "significant portion of its range" in the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The ESA protects species "in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range," but does not define "significant." The policy would clarify that the services could list a species if it is endangered or threatened in a "significant portion of its range," even if that species is not endangered or threatened throughout all its range.
Under the proposed policy, a portion of the range of any given species would be defined as "significant" if its contribution to the viability of the species is so important that, without that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction. If a species is found to be threatened or endangered in a significant portion of its range, the entire species must be listed and protections of the ESA applied throughout its range. However, if the significant portion of the range is the exact same area inhabited by a "distinct population segment" of the species, only the distinct population segment would be listed.
PLC will submit comments through NESARC by Feb. 7, 2012.