Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) finalized its reclassification of the Tobusch fishhook cactus (Sclerocactus brevihamatus ssp. tobuschii), a small cactus found in Texas, downlisting the species from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
As previously reported here, the Service concluded that downlisting the cactus was warranted given an increase in the number of observed individuals. While only 200 cactuses were known when the species was listed as endangered in 1979, the Service now estimates there are more than 3,300 individuals at 105 sites across the Edwards Plateau of west-central Texas. In addition to identifying populations of the cactus that were previously unknown, the Service worked with state partners and private landowners to protect and conserve the existing populations. The Service’s Southwest Regional Director cited today’s decision as “a victory for the collaborative model of conservation that engages states, private landowners and conservation groups to play a central role in a species’ recovery.”
The Tobusch fishhook cactus is just one of at least a dozen species that the Service plans to reclassify or remove from the ESA in the coming months, including the Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, the American burying beetle, and the Kirtland’s warbler.