Southwest Willow Flycatcher remains endangered

Posted in: Aviation, Bridges, Environmental, Highways, Water

Southwest Willow Flycatcher
Southwest Willow Flycatcher (Photo courtesy of Kelly Colgan Azar/Flickr Creative Commons)

Late in 2017, a petition to remove the Southwest Willow Flycatcher (Empidomax traillii extimus) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife was denied. This is important to any of our clients who are required to meet National Environmental Protection Act compliance on their projects. This includes roads, bridges, airports and water projects within the bird’s territory.

The southwest willow flycatcher breeds and rears its chicks in late spring and summer along waterways in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. A range-wide assessment of the bird found 1,629 breeding territories throughout its range in 2012.

The petition to remove the southwest willow flycatcher from the federal Endangered and Threatened Wildlife list was introduced in 2015 by several livestock and industrial organizations. The basis of the petition was that the southwest willow flycatcher was not genetically distinct enough to be considered a separate subspecies.

After a thorough review of the best available scientific and commercial information of the southwest willow flycatcher, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service did not find it is warranted to remove this flycatcher from the endangered species list. And, they concluded that the southwest willow flycatcher remains “in danger of extinction throughout its range”.

Stressors and threats to the southwest willow flycatcher success include:

  • Habitat loss and/or modification
  • Modification caused by dams and reservoirs
  • Diversions and groundwater pumping
  • Urbanization of river corridors

Other stressors include natural and manmade factors such as drought, climate change and vulnerability of small isolated population and genetic effects.

If you’d like to learn if this or other wildlife might affect your project’s NEPA compliance, please contact me. I’d be glad to go into greater detail.

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