After reviewing the best available scientific and commercial information, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to reaffirm the listing of the streaked horned lark as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The service is also proposing a revised special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA to provide for the conservation needs of the species. This announcement opens a 60-day public comment period.
The streaked horned lark is a small, ground nesting bird that makes its home in the Pacific Northwest. It has disappeared from much of its historical range, which used to extend from southern British Columbia to southwestern Oregon and is now located in only three regions of Oregon and Washington.
Streaked horned larks are impacted by ongoing habitat loss and degradation, land management activities, recreation and climate change. These factors, in combination with their small population size, have pushed the species into decline.
The birds nest on the ground in areas with low, sparse vegetation. Historically, their habitat was maintained by disturbances such as flooding or fire, but loss of natural disturbance regimes has made them depend on artificially maintained habitats, including agricultural lands, airports and dredged material placement sites.
“Our status review supports maintaining streaked horned lark as a threatened species,” said Robyn Thorson, regional director for the service’s Columbia-Pacific Northwest Region. “We are encouraged by existing conservation efforts and are committed to working with partners and stakeholders to recover this bird using a variety of ESA tools. The proposed 4(d) rule would encourage landowners to manage their landscape in a way that works for them while supporting the conservation needs of this species throughout its range.”
The service previously designated the lark as a threatened species with a 4(d) rule in 2013. This designation was subsequently legally challenged. The court remanded the rule for reconsideration, and the Service agreed to submit a new proposed listing rule that incorporated additional information.
The 60-day comment period allows the public to review and provide input on this proposal. The Service is seeking information about the biology, distribution, status and population trends of the species, as well as any additional information regarding the proposed 4(d) rule. All relevant materials received by June 14, 2021, will be considered.