Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Among the significant changes made in the 1982 amendments to the Act was the creation of section 10(j), which provides for the designation of specific populations of species listed as "experimental populations." Under section l0(j), reintroduced populations of endangered or threatened species established outside the current range but within the species' historical range may be designated, at the discretion of the Service, as "experimental," lessening the Act's regulatory authority over such populations.
Thus, because these populations are not provided full Endangered Species Act protection, management flexibility is increased, local opposition is reduced, and more reintroductions are possible. Two types of experimental population designations exist: essential and nonessential. An essential experimental population is a reintroduced population whose loss would be likely to appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival of the species in the wild. These populations are treated as threatened species (with special rules) for the purposes of section 9 of the Act. Therefore, they can be managed with greater flexibility with regard to incidental take and regulated take.
A nonessential experimental population is a reintroduced population whose loss would not be likely to appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival of the species in the wild. These populations, besides being treated as threatened species, are treated as proposed species for the purposes of section 7. However, if the population occurs within the national park system or the national wildlife refuge system, it is still treated as if listed as threatened for the purposes of section 7.
The establishment of experimental populations is a valuable tool for use in the recovery of some listed species. Examples of experimental populations include the black-footed ferret in Wyoming, Guam rail on Rota, and red wolf in North Carolina.