What Does “significant portion of its range” REALLY Mean?

Photo by viralbus. Some rights reserved.

Well, evidently it’s not very straightforward. Which is why the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), along with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), published draft guidance in the Federal Register last Friday, providing interpretation of the phrase “significant portion of its range” in the Endangered Species Act’s definitions of “endangered species” and “threatened species.”

According to a recent Perkins Coie Update, a “clear and consistent” interpretation of this phrase has “proved elusive over the years.” If finalized, the guidance would provide a legally binding policy that would set forth the agencies’ interpretation of ‘‘significant portion of its range’’ and its place in the statutory framework of the ESA, replacing a 2007 legal opinion from the Solicitor of the DOI on the topic (which was subsequently withdrawn in 2011).

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