DEC seeks input on changes to state’s endangered list

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking input on changes to the state’s list of endangered and threatened species.

The department is looking to remove 19 species from the list, including the bald eagle, the peregrine falcon, northern harrier and the humpback whale, which have seen their population surpass the state’s initial recovery goals. Other species, like the silver chub, would be removed because their range was found to no longer include New York — and other species, like the eastern cougar and Eskimo curlew, have gone extinct.

The department also wants to add another 18 species to the “threatened” or “endangered” list, including several species of freshwater mussels, the common nighthawk, the freshwater bloater and the eastern hellbender.

When a species is listed as threatened or endangered under the state’s Endangered Species Law, the DEC prioritizes monitoring and management programs. The species is protected through a permit requirement for projects likely to cause harm to them.

Even if a species is removed from the list, the DEC continues to monitor their populations and make management changes as necessary to address any new concerns that may arise.

The full list of draft changes to the state endangered and threatened species listing can be found in the DEC pre-proposal on the DEC’s website (see “New York Environmental Conservation Law, Article 11-0535”).

Public input is encouraged on the draft list changes before a formal proposal to revise the list is developed, the department said in a news release. Comments can be submitted by email until Dec. 24 to wildliferegs@dec.ny.gov with “Endangered Species List” in the subject line, or by mail to Joe Racette, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233.

The DEC has also proposed a formal rulemaking process for existing endangered species regulations “to help clarify and improve the administration of the state’s stringent regulations for endangered and threatened species while also helping to prevent potential project delays,” according to a news release. The overall goal is to speed up the application process and clarify the criteria the department needs to make a determination on whether a species is endangered or threatened.

Documents regarding this proposed regulation amendment are available on the DEC’s website (see “6 NYCRR Part 182”).

The public is encouraged to submit comments through close of business on Nov. 10. Comments must be submitted in writing to Dan Rosenblatt, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233, or via email to wildliferegs@dec.ny.gov, subject line “Endangered Species Regulation.”