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Final Rule for Queen Charlotte Goshawk Listing in Canada

Queen Charlotte Goshawk adult male.

Queen Charlotte Goshawk adult male.

PHOTO: Rich Lowell, ADF&G

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today its final rule to list the British Columbia distinct population segment (DPS) of the Queen Charlotte goshawk (Accipiter gentilis laingi) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The species is not being listed in the U.S. due in part to protections provided by the U.S. Forest Service’s Tongass Land Management Plan. The Endangered Species Act provides this flexibility so that protections can be tailored to where they are needed.

This final rule implements the Federal protections provided by the Endangered Species Act for this subspecies in British Columbia, Canada, on Vancouver Island and the surrounding smaller islands, the Queen Charlotte Islands, and the coastal mainland and adjacent islands west of the crest of the Coast Mountains. This listing is consistent with the “threatened” status of the Queen Charlotte goshawk under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.  Because the British Columbia DPS is entirely outside the United States we are not designating critical habitat.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined in 2007 that listing of the southeast Alaska DPS was not warranted because less of its forest habitat has been logged, and the Service expects that adequate habitat will remain in the future, under existing management plans.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to work with the U.S. Forest Service and the province of British Columbia to develop conservation measures for this subspecies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was petitioned to list the Queen Charlotte goshawk as endangered in May of 1994.  A series of legal challenges and court-ordered remands took place between 1995 and 2004.  In May of 2004 the District Court remanded the finding to the USFWS with instructions to evaluate whether Vancouver Island was a “significant portion” of the subspecies’ range (within the meaning of the Act’s definition of “endangered” or “threatened”) and, if so, to determine whether the bird should be listed.  In 2009, we published a proposed rule to list the British Columbia DPS as threatened, except on the Queen Charlotte Islands, which we determined were a “significant portion of the range” (SPR). For that SPR we concluded that the Queen Charlotte goshawk was endangered.  Subsequently, a series of court cases regarding other species caused the Service to reevaluate its policy and we have now determined that the Queen Charlotte Islands do not constitute an SPR.  The final rule published today reflects that policy and explains our reasoning for listing the British Columbia DPS as threatened. 

The Queen Charlotte goshawk is a comparatively small, dark subspecies of the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) that nests and forages in coastal rainforests of Southeast Alaska and British Columbia.  Goshawks typically nest and forage in old-growth forest, but will also use mature second-growth (50 to 100 years old) areas for either purpose when old-growth forest is limited. Goshawks hunt primarily by flying between perches and launching attacks from those perches. They eat a variety of medium-sized birds and mammals.  The primary threat to the species is the loss of old growth forest which results in reductions in nesting habitat, foraging habitat, and prey populations.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://www.fws.gov.

 -FWS-

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