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Monday, January 7, 2013
USFWS Proposes Protections for Rare Hummingbird
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces a proposal to protect the Honduran emerald hummingbird as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This colorful species is restricted to arid thorn forest and scrub habitats of Honduras and is the only known bird species endemic to this country.

The Service has carefully assessed the best available scientific and commercial information regarding the past, present and future threats to this species and found that it is in danger of extinction based on its very small and severely fragmented range and population. The Honduran emerald hummingbird population continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

The Service made this determination in response to a petition filed on October 28, 2008, on behalf of several groups requesting that the agency list the Honduran emerald hummingbird as endangered under the ESA. On June 23, 2010, the Service published a 90-day finding on the petition, announcing that it would initiate a status review to determine if listing this species is warranted. This proposed listing determination constitutes the Service's 12-month finding on the petition.

Nearly ninety percent of the hummingbird's original habitat may no longer exist in its original form due to land conversion. Much of the remaining habitat is on privately-owned land, which is often planted with non-native grasses for cattle foraging or with agricultural plantations. The Honduran emerald hummingbird's range is limited to a few small, isolated islands of habitat in the northern, eastern and western parts of the country, surrounded by human-dominated landscapes. As a result of this continued habitat loss, these hummingbirds must expend more energy to travel between and find suitable habitat that provides substrates for breeding, feeding and nesting.

The proposed rule published in the Federal Register on January 2, 2013. The Federal Register publication of the rule is available online at by clicking on the 2013 Proposed Rules under Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.

Written comments and information concerning the proposed listing can be submitted by one of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. [FWS-R9-ES-2009-0094]; or
U.S. mail or hand delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS-R9-ES-2009-0094]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

The Service is also seeking comments from independent species experts and peer reviewers. Any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate and as effective as possible. The Service particularly seeks clarifying information concerning:

Taxonomy, distribution, habitat selection (especially breeding and foraging habitats), diet, and population abundance and trends (especially current recruitment data) of this species.
Effects of habitat loss and changing land uses on the distribution and abundance of this species and its principal food sources over the short and long term.
Whether changing climatic conditions (i.e., increasing intensity of hurricanes or drought) are affecting the species, its habitat, or its food sources.
Effects of other potential factors, including live capture and collection, domestic and international trade, predation by other animals, and diseases of this species or its principal food sources over the short and long term.
Management programs for hummingbird conservation, including mitigation measures related to conservation programs, and any other private or governmental conservation programs that benefit this species.
Genetics and taxonomy.
Factors that are the basis for making a listing determination for a species under section 4(a) of the ESA, which are:
The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
Disease or predation;
The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.

Comments on each proposed rule must be received within 60 days, on or before March 4, 2013. The Service will post all comments on This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided through the process. The Service is not able to accept email or faxes.

Addition of a foreign species to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife places restrictions on the importation of either the animal or its parts. Listing can also generate conservation benefits, such as increasing awareness of the species, prompting research efforts to address their conservation needs, or funding conservation in range countries.

The ESA provides a critical safety net for fish, wildlife and plants and to date has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species, as well as promoting the recovery of many others. The Service is actively engaged with 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's Branch of Foreign Species, visit:

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 Connect with our Facebook page at, follow us on Twitter at, watch our YouTube Channel at and download photos from our Flickr page at
Vanessa Kauffman

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