Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Recovery, the ultimate purpose of the endangered species program, is the process by which the decline of an endangered or threatened species is arrested or reversed, or threats to its survival neutralized so that its long-term survival in nature can be ensured. The Act calls for the conservation of threatened and endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend and, ultimately, the recovery of listed species to levels where protection under the Act is no longer necessary. The Secretary of the Interior has delegated responsibility for endangered and threatened species recovery to the Service. The primary objectives of the Service's recovery program, while working in close cooperation with our partners, are to: (1) complete development of recovery plans within 2.5 years, to the maximum extent possible, (2) determine tasks necessary to reduce or eliminate the threats to the highest priority species,(3) apply available resources to the highest priority recovery tasks, and (4) reclassify and delist species as appropriate.
Section 4(f) of the Act calls for the development and implementation of recovery plans for species listed as endangered or threatened unless such plans would not contribute to their conservation. Recovery plans serve as blueprints for private, Federal, and State cooperation in the conservation of threatened and endangered species and the ecosystems on which they depend. As such, the plans must identify precise, measurable criteria to determine objectively when recovery has been achieved. Recovery planning may be done by the Service or may utilize the expertise of individuals from other Federal agencies, State personnel, or private contractors. The Service reviews outside work and may modify the draft plan as necessary to ensure consistency among plans, resolve disputes among recovery team members, and determine task priorities. Recovery plans must identify, to the extent possible, management tasks, recommended research needs, and other actions necessary to reach recovery plan goals. Recovery plans are reviewed periodically to determine whether revision of the plan is warranted. Strategies outlined in recovery plans may be modified when needed to incorporate new information and ensure that the species remains on the most effective path to recovery.
Coordination among Federal, State, and local agencies, conservation organizations, appropriate experts, and major land users is a key ingredient for effectively implementing a recovery program. The recovery planning process is designed to allow potentially affected segments of the public to participate in planning and provide comments to facilitate coordination and plan acceptance. Importantly, such coordination allows the special local knowledge of affected communities to be fully considered. This understanding can serve to reduce or eliminate human use conflicts with listed species and their habitats. The Service recognizes that public support is vital to long-term survival and recovery of threatened and endangered species and the public is invited to provide comments on draft recovery plans. All comments are reviewed, to the extent possible, and addressed in the final plans.
Not all species have recovery plans. Some, such as the Little Kern golden trout, have recovery objectives outlined in State management plans that substitute as a recovery plan. Other species, such as Bachman's warbler and Scioto madtom, have not been sighted in several years and may be extinct. Recovery plan preparation is deferred for these species until individuals are found in the wild.