The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is under a federal court order to determine if 111 species of plants and animals in Alabama should be listed as threatened or endangered.
The possible listings are the result of a recent lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) against FWS, which claimed 404 Southeastern species should be added to the Endangered Species List.
While the determination must be completed by 2027, the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama TREASURE Forest Association (ATFA) are working with groups to help the FWS obtain the data needed for the determination. Already, the number of species that could be listed has been reduced to 376.
“While there are certain risks associated with inviting the federal government onto your property to look for potentially endangered or threatened species, there are also risks in FWS not having accurate data to make the determination,” said the Federation’s Rick Oates, who also serves as ATFA executive director. “It’s a win-win situation if we can help determine a species is not threatened or endangered. That would allow property owners to continue to manage their land as best meets their individual goals.”
From a biological diversity standpoint, Alabama is blessed, Oates said. The state has the fifth-largest number of species of plants and animals found in any state. Unfortunately, Alabama also has the third-largest number of species on the Endangered Species List, and the greatest number of aquatic species on the list.
ATFA and the Federation will continue to keep members apprised of the situation, including necessary reporting as the determination surveys move forward, Oates said.
For more details, including a list of considered species, go to fws.gov/endangered/improving_ESA.