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USFWS rules on Henslow's sparrow

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
 Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region

           NEWS RELEASE

Department of the Interior
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Bldg.
1 Federal Drive, Ft. Snelling, MN 55111
Contact External Affairs:
Telephone (612) 713-5360
TDD (612) 713-5318
Fax: (612) 713-5280
E-mail: r3_pao@mail.fws.gov

For Immediate Release
September 9, 1998

Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 203
E:mail: Georgia_Parham@mail.fws.gov
Lori Pruitt 812-334-4261 x 211
E:mail: Lori_Pruitt@mail.fws.gov


The Henslow's sparrow, a small, prairie bird that nests in
grasslands from Oklahoma and Kansas eastward into New
York, does not need the protection of the Endangered
Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
announced today.

The Service made the decision in response to a petition
requesting threatened status for the bird under the
Endangered Species Act and designation of critical
habitat. The Service concluded that the petition did not
provide substantial scientific data to justify listing the
sparrow as a threatened species.

The petitioner, the Biodiversity Legal Foundation,
contended that Henslow's sparrow populations were
declining and that this trend only could be reversed if the
species is protected under the Endangered Species Act.
However, the Service's review of the status of this species
concluded that the Henslow's sparrow was not a candidate
for listing.

The Endangered Species petition process requires the
Service to decide within 90 days if the petition provides
substantial justification for the petitioned action.  The
Service found that the petition did not provide any
substantial new information indicating that listing may be
warranted. Furthermore, during its review of the petition,
the Service learned of several new populations of
Henslow's sparrows that were previously unknown and
potential improvements in the species' status in a number
of other states.

+The Service's own concerns about the decline of
Henslow's sparrows prompted us to conduct an exhaustive
review of this species from 1995 through 1997,' said
Service Regional Director Bill Hartwig. +We concluded
that data did not indicate that the species should be
proposed for listing at the time.  Reexamination of the
data -- required as a result of the petition -- clearly
confirms our earlier conclusion.'

The Henslow's sparrow nests in tallgrass prairies and
similar habitats from Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska
eastward into New York.  Other states with breeding
populations include Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky,
Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey,
North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia,
West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The Henslow's sparrow spends winters along the Gulf and
Atlantic coasts from Texas into North Carolina.  In the
past its numbers had steeply declined due to loss of
tallgrass prairie habitat.  However, populations appear to
be rebounding in some areas.  The Service's finding notes
that several areas in Indiana and Ohio now host large
nesting populations that were unknown two years ago.
Other previously known nesting areas in Indiana,
Oklahoma, and Kansas have large populations that are
stable to increasing.  Additional monitoring will be
required to determine if these improvements continue.

+We share the concern about species like the Henslow's
sparrow where populations have shown declines in the
past,' said Hartwig.  +We have seen some encouraging
improvements in localized areas with the Henslow, and
the Service will continue to track the status of these birds
to ensure their future is safeguarded.'

Completed and ongoing status assessment reports, and
resulting decisions, are available for the Service's Region
3 states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota,
Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin) at:

A notice announcing the Service's finding on the petition
to list the Henslow's sparrow appears in today's Federal

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal
Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and
enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the
continuing benefit of the American people.  The Service
manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System comprising more than 500 national wildlife
refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special
management areas.  It also operates 66 national fish
hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations.

The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers
the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird
populations, restores nationally significant fisheries,
conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands
and helps foreign governments with their conservation
efforts.  It also oversees the Federal Aid program that
distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes
on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife