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USFWS Withdraws Delisting
Proposal for VELB

Species Remains Listed as Threatened,
But with a Reduced Range
In a long-awaited decision, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) responded to a proposal for delisting the valley elderberry longhorn beetle (VELB, Desmocerus californicus dimorphus) by declining to remove it from the Endangered Species Act list. The species remains protected with a “Threatened” status. The USFWS published a news release on September 16th and a Federal Register notice on September 17th to announce the action.

As a result of the scientific review, USFWS determined the best available information did not warrant delisting of VELB. The review did result in reducing the geographic range of the species by eliminating Kings, Kern, and Tulare Counties. 

USFWS reexamined existing data about where VELB occurs, evaluated new information from public comments, and considered an independent peer review report. Because threats, such as climate change, predators, pesticides, and invasive species, continue to adversely affect VELB, the review concluded that the species still needs ESA protection.

Existing USFWS guidance remains in effect regarding VELB mitigation measures to protect the species and avoid or replace affected elderberry bushes, the species’ host plant. Projects that may adversely affect the species will continue to require ESA compliance through either Section 7 consultations (if involving a federal action) or a Section 10 Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) process (if not a federal project). Existing consultations, permitted HCPs, and agreements made to conserve the species within its revised range remain in effect. 

In areas now excluded from the species’ revised range, USFWS has not yet issued guidance on how existing consultations or permits will be treated; however, the revised range of the species is new information to consider in the consultations. USFWS is preparing new guidance for its VELB consultation procedures. Additional information about the decision and public comments can be found online.

If you have questions, please contact Ascent Senior Biologist, Linda Leeman, at (916) 930-3190.

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