RELEASE: Proposed ESA regulatory changes will help species impacted by climate change

For Release: Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Proposed ESA regulatory changes will help species impacted by climate change


WildEarth Guardians’ statement on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed ESA section 10(j) rulemaking


Contact: Joe Bushyhead, WildEarth Guardians, (505) 660-0284, [email protected]


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published new proposed changes to Endangered Species Act regulations that, if finalized, will better allow the agency to help species impacted by climate change. 


The Service is proposing to amend regulations governing the introduction of threatened and endangered species into unoccupied habitat—a measure critical for the conservation of rare animals including the black-footed ferret and Mexican gray wolf. Current regulations bar the Service from introducing species outside of their historic range. The proposed rulemaking would eliminate the prohibition, thus allowing the Service to introduce or translocate species as climate change alters suitable habitat.


“These are welcome and necessary changes,” said Joe Bushyhead, Endangered Species Attorney with WildEarth Guardians. “The effects of climate change are undeniable. As wildfire, megadrought, and invasive species shift and destroy wildlife habitat in real time, the Fish and Wildlife Service needs tools to help species adapt to a climate-altered world.”


The new rulemaking comes amid an ongoing legal fight over the Trump administration’s 2019 amendments to other Endangered Species Act regulations, which weakened existing protections. In December 2021, the Fish and Wildlife Service asked a federal court to allow the Trump-era changes to remain in place while the agency determines how to proceed. WildEarth Guardians and other conservation groups have asked the court to invalidate the changes and restore the previous regulations. 


“We echo the urgency of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland when she says ‘the time to act—and use every tool at our disposal—is now,’” said Bushyhead. “While we’re glad to see new changes to address climate change, the Service needs to restore baseline protections immediately.”


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