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Fish and Wildlife Service Will Not Conduct Status Review for Alaska Breeding Red Knot Subspecies

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today announced a petition
seeking to protect the roselaari subspecies of red knot (Calidris canutus
roselaari) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) does not present
substantial information to indicate that protection may be warranted.
Therefore, the Service will not initiate a status review in response to
this petition.

The red knot (Calidris canutus) is a medium-sized (9 to 11 inches in
length), Arctic-breeding shorebird. The breeding plumage of the red knot is
distinctive: the face, breast, and upper belly are a rich rufous-red, and
the lower belly and under tail-coverts are light-colored with dark flecks.
Upperparts are dark brown with white and rufous feather edges; outer
primary feathers are dark brown to black. Females are similar to males in
appearance, but colors are typically less intense in females, with more
buff or light gray coloration on dorsal parts. Subtle subspecies
differences in breeding plumage have been described. Non-breeding plumage,
dusky gray above and whitish below, is similar between sexes and among
subspecies.

Four genetically distinct groups of red knots were recently identified;
they are comprised of C. c. canutus, C. c. piersma, C. c. rogersi, and a
North American group containing C. c. rufa, C. c. roselaari and C. c.
islandica. C. c. islandica breeds in the Canadian high Arctic and Greenland
and winters in Western Europe. The other two subspecies in the North
American group occur within the United States: C. c. rufa, currently a
candidate species for protection under the ESA, and C. c. roselaari, the
focus of this 90-day petition finding.

On February 27, 2008, the Service received a petition from Defenders of
Wildlife, American Littoral Society, American Bird Conservancy, Delaware
Audubon, Delaware Nature Society, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, National
Audubon Society, New Jersey Audubon Society, and Citizens Campaign for the
Environment, requesting that the Department of the Interior (Department)
use its emergency authorities under section 4(b)(7) of the ESA to add the
red knot C. c. rufa subspecies to the federal list of threatened and
endangered species. The petitioners also sought to have the Department list
as endangered “a broader taxon comprising both the rufa subspecies and the
roselaari subspecies.” The petition further called for a “national listing
based on similarity of appearance” under section 4(e) of the ESA.

The Service has already addressed the rufa subspecies component of the
petition in a separate finding. The finding announced today addresses only
whether the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial
information indicating that the following petitioned actions may be
warranted: (1) Listing the C. c. roselaari as endangered or threatened, (2)
listing “a broader taxon comprising both the rufa subspecies and the
roselaari subspecies” as endangered or threatened, and (3) a “national
listing based on similarity of appearance” under section 4(e) of the ESA.

After reviewing the information provided in the petition and available in
Service files about the species, Service experts determined that the
petition did not present substantial information that would indicate that
any of the three petitioned actions are appropriate. There is not
sufficient data, for example, to determine either population levels or
trends for the roselaari subspecies. Since the ESA does not provide for
listing at other than the individual species or subspecies levels, it has
no provisions allowing a listing of two among a suite of subspecies, as
would be required under action 2, above. And the “similarity of appearance”
listing can only be invoked when an unlisted species closely resembles a
listed one and shares habitat. Neither of these subspecies of red knot is
currently listed, and it appears that their habitat use patterns are
largely separate.

Although the Service will not review the status of this subspecies at this
time, the agency encourages interested parties to continue to gather data
that will assist with the conservation of C. c. roselaari. The Service will
continue to monitor the subspecies, and studies are ongoing.

A copy of the today’s finding and other information about C. c. roselaari
is available at http://alaska.fws.gov/. The Service will review any new
information on the status or distribution of C. c. roselaari that may be
revealed at the conclusion of current studies. To submit information or
materials regarding C. c. roselaari, send to the Field Supervisor,
Fairbanks Fish and Wildlife Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
101 12th Avenue, Room 110, Fairbanks. AK 99701.

America’s fish, wildlife, and plant resources belong to all of us, and
ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. The
Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public
in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover
imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species program, go
to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.

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.

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