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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Warranted but Precluded: What That Means Under the Endangered Species Act

Kristina Alexander
Legislative Attorney

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to meet deadlines for listing species. Congress incorporated a stop-gap measure in the ESA to allow FWS to comply with the ESA but postpone listing decisions. The measure allows FWS to determine that a species’ protection under the act is warranted but that other listing priorities take precedence. This type of listing determination is known as warranted but precluded.

This report analyzes the process behind a warranted but precluded determination under the ESA. It examines FWS’s annual list of species that are warranted but precluded, and litigation related to the numbers of species whose listing should occur, including a recent settlement. It also discusses what impact a warranted but precluded determination has on federal actions that may affect a species, with a particular analysis of impacts on the sage grouse, whose listing was determined to be warranted but precluded in 2010. Because sage grouse habitat covers so much of the western United States, agency decisions, such as for oil and gas leasing, often have to take this listing decision into account. Both the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service have existing policies addressing how land management planning must consider species for which this determination was made.

Date of Report: August 31, 2012
Number of Pages: 12
Order Number: R41100
Price: $29.95

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