BOISE — State conservation staffers are looking into how federal changes to Endangered Species Act rules could affect Idaho — home to six endangered and 13 threatened species.
Scott Pugrud, administrator of the Idaho Office of Species Conservation, said Tuesday his office is reviewing the newly issued regulatory changes, which are set to take effect in the coming weeks; they’d affect future listing decisions, but aren’t retroactive.
“We’ve got all our staff kind of digging in and seeing what they are and what the impacts will be on Idaho,” Pugrud said.
Among the most controversial of the new regulatory changes announced by the Trump administration this week is the inclusion of economic considerations, rather than just scientific ones, in decisions about endangered species. But Idaho’s office has long included that in its mission, which states that its work is done “while taking into consideration the economic vitality of the state.”
Pugrud said the office’s biggest projects right now involve sage grouse and the governor’s salmon work group.
The six endangered species in Idaho are:
n Kootenai River white sturgeon
n Sockeye salmon
Three types of snail
n Banbury Springs lanx
n Bruneau hot springsnail and Snake River physa snail
n Southern Selkirk Mountains Woodland Caribou.
Five Idaho species have been delisted, or removed from the endangered list. Those include the bald eagle; the Idaho springsnail; the Utah valvata snail; the gray wolf; and the peregrine falcon. The peregrine falcon, one of the world’s fastest birds, can fly at up to 200 mph.
The Peregrine Fund, which formed in 1970 to recover the peregrine falcon, led efforts to reestablish the raptor through captive breeding and releases into the wild. The banning of the insecticide DDT also was instrumental in the recovery of both the peregrine falcon and the bald eagle.
The fund, based in Boise since 1984, operates the World Center for Birds of Prey and visitor center, and has branched out into working to recover other types of threatened birds worldwide.
The list of threatened species currently found in Idaho includes four fish, including the bull trout and the Chinook salmon; one snail, the Bliss Rapids snail; three mammals, including the Canada lynx and the grizzly bear; and five plants.
SPECIES CONSERVATION OFFICE
The Idaho Office of Species Conservation was established in 2000 within the executive office of the governor; that occurred during the administration of then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, who went on to serve as interior secretary under President George W. Bush. The office was established one year after the peregrine falcon was removed from the endangered species list, in a successful captive-breeding, release and recovery effort led by the Peregrine Fund, which is now based in Boise.
The state office, which has a staff of 14, is charged with preserving, protecting and restoring species that are listed as threatened, endangered or candidates for listing. It coordinates with other state agencies, including the Department of Fish & Game and other resource agencies, on species recovery and compliance with the federal law.
“We’re a little bit unique in that we’re housed in the executive office of the governor,” said Pugrud, who was appointed to head the office by Gov. Brad Little in January.
The office’s previous head, Dustin Miller, now heads the Idaho Department of Lands.
“A lot of the endangered species work in other states is accomplished through their departments of fish and game or fish and wildlife.”
Most of Pugrud’s staff works on issues involving anadromous, or ocean-going, fish; funding for that comes from the Bonneville Power Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund. The office also receives state appropriations to work on sage grouse recovery.