FWS Recommends Delisting Interior Least Tern from ESA

FWS Recommends Delisting Interior Least Tern from ESA

On October 23, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the interior least tern had recovered enough to be removed from the endangered species list. The bird was listed in 1985 when there were less than 2,000 individuals and only a few dozen nesting sites found across its historic range of the Great Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley. The species now numbers more than 18,000 individuals with more than 480 nesting sites in 18 states. Much of the recovery is due to collaborations between federal, state, and local partners that worked together to improve and protect habitat. In particular, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers coordinated range-wide modeling efforts and helped to fund a habitat-driven, range-wide population model to evaluate population dynamics.

“Stewardship and partnership are two words that come to mind during this momentous time for both the environment and the interior least tern,” said Maj. Gen. Richard Kaiser, Deputy Chief of Engineers and Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “For over 30 years, we have partnered with the Service to monitor, conserve and recover this endangered species along the Lower Mississippi River. The partnership demonstrates that through collaboration, we can protect and recover an endangered species while continuing to provide critical navigation and flood control benefits to the nation. The Corps is absolutely honored to play a role in a partnership that can serve as a model for the recovery and delisting of other species.”

In addition, the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program supported habitat restoration and maintenance of nesting areas along the central Platte River.

“I applaud today’s announcement proposing to remove the interior least tern from the endangered species list,” said Wyoming Senator John Barrasso. “Since its listing in 1985, states like Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska have worked in good faith with landowners, conservation groups, and the federal government to preserve critical habitat and recover this bird. The Platte River Recovery Implementation Plan played a critical role in this case and I look forward to reauthorizing the program so we can continue to build on the success of the interior least tern’s delisting.”

November 15, 2019