Endangered Species:

Factors Associated With Delayed Listing Decisions

RCED-93-152: Published: Aug 5, 1993. Publicly Released: Aug 5, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) listing process for six selected endangered species.

GAO found that: (1) questions about biological data on the size and distribution of the species' populations, the genetic uniqueness of the species, and the nature of threats to the species' existence have delayed FWS listing decisions from 5 months to 6 years; (2) entities outside of FWS have raised concerns about the potential adverse impact of a listing on ongoing or planned activities in areas containing habitat for the species; and (3) FWS development of conservation agreements has contributed to delays in listing decisions for some of the species.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In November 1994, the agency published a draft policy containing guidance for affording protection to candidate species. Provisions contained in this guidance on the development of conservation agreements reflect actions to be taken that are consistent with GAO's recommendation. Because of higher-priority work at the Fish and Wildlife Service, no timeframe has been set by the agency to make the policy final.

    Recommendation: The Director, FWS, should, when authorizing the use of a conservation agreement to protect a species that would otherwise warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act, ensure that the agreement: (1) addresses the known threats to the species; (2) contains provisions for effective monitoring to ensure that the agreement's protection mechanisms are properly and fully implemented; and (3) is implemented in a timely manner. In addition, the Director should routinely review the effectiveness of such agreements following their implementation.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: United States Fish and Wildlife Service


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