Feds post draft recovery plan for rare Nebraska beetle

Salt Creek tiger beetles have been pushed to the brink of extinction by habitat loss associated with urbanization, bank stabilization and agricultural development

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There are only a few hundred Salt Creek tiger beetles remaining. Photo via USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A rare insect that lives only in a few pockets of saline wetlands and streams in eastern Nebraska is getting some much-needed attention. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week published a draft recovery plan for the endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle.

Biologists are hopeful that a collaborative conservation effort, including habitat protection, captive breeding and reintroductions, can keep the insect from going extinct. Salt Creek tiger beetles have declined due to habitat loss associated with urbanization, bank stabilization and agricultural development.

The USFWS is taking public comments on the draft plan, which sets specific recovery goals. For starters, the USFWS says it proposes to down-list the beetle to threatened status when there are three protected wild populations, each with between 500-1,000 individuals. Delisting could occur when there are three additional populations in a minimum of four recovery areas and these populations remain stable over 10 consecutive years.

Six populations of Salt Creek tiger beetles were known to exist in the mid to late 1990s along three streams; however, two of these populations have been extirpated since that time. Four populations currently exist, all along a single stream. These four populations contain several hundred adults.

Recovery of the Salt Creek tiger beetle is important for the long-term survival of the species itself but also to restore and protect the unique saline wetland habitat in eastern Nebraska. To advance this effort, the Service and numerous local organizations have dedicated tremendous effort toward, experimental rearing, reintroduction, population and habitat monitoring to help recover the Salt Creek tiger beetle and restore its habitat.

Local partner organizations include the Saline Wetlands Conservation Partnership, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lower Platte South Natural Resources District, City of Lincoln, Nebraska Environmental Trust, University of Nebraska, Lincoln Children’s Zoo, Henry Doorly Zoo, and the Master Naturalists.

The Service will open a 60-day public comment period until September 14, 2015, to allow the public to review the draft recovery plan.  All relevant information received from the public, government agencies, the scientific community, industry, and other interested parties will be considered and addressed prior to approval of a final recovery plan.

Read the plan online at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/invertebrates/saltcreektiger/index.htm

Comments and information may be submitted to:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,Nebraska Ecological Services Field Office, 9325 South Alda Road, Wood River, Nebraska 68883 .

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