5/6/2014 USFWS PRESS RELEASE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the D.C. District Court has granted a six-month extension of the deadline to make the final decision on whether to list the Gunnison sage-grouse for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The extension, granted with the consent of the plaintiff in the relevant court case, will provide additional time for the Service to review information received during the public review process on whether final listing as a “threatened species” may be necessary. The Service originally proposed an “endangered species” listing. The Service will propose a 4(d) special rule to tailor the take prohibitions of the ESA to those necessary and advisable for conservation of the species. This time extension will allow for public engagement and comment on that special rule before a final listing determination.
The Service is confident that an extension will not affect the status of the species because of the interim protections in place and the short duration of the extension.
Moreover, the BLM will be revising its interim land management direction and will begin planning efforts to ensure that relevant Resource Management Plans are updated to conserve important Gunnison sage-grouse habitat.
On January 11, 2013, the Service proposed to list the Gunnison sage-grouse as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The Service then held a 60-day public comment period and held a series of public meetings in Colorado and Utah.
As put in the place by a schedule established in 2011 and subsequent agreements with the plaintiff, the deadline for final listing determination for the Gunnison sage-grouse was May 12, 2014. The schedule is part of an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the agency’s most frequent plaintiffs that is enabling the agency to systematically, over a period of six years, review and address the needs of more than 250 species on the list of candidates for protection under the ESA.