U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Successful Recovery of Morelet’s Crocodile under the Endangered Species Act

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Successful Recovery of Morelet’s Crocodile under the Endangered Species Act

Post  Admin on Fri May 25, 2012 11:20 pm

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Successful Recovery of
Morelet’s Crocodile under the Endangered Species Act


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced removal of the
Morelet’s crocodile from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened
Wildlife under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to recovery of the
species. The species is found in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.

The Morelet’s crocodile was named after a French naturalist, P.M.A.
Morelet, who discovered the species in Mexico in 1850. The species is
smaller than other species, such as the American crocodile, with most wild
adults usually ranging in length from just 6 - 8 feet. It is generally
found in freshwater environments such as lakes, swamps and slow-moving
rivers. The majority of the Morelet’s crocodile population occurs in
Mexico and Belize (87 percent), and those two countries hold the majority
of the potentially suitable habitat (81 percent) throughout the species’
range. Guatemala contains the remaining 13 percent of the wild Morelet’s
crocodiles and the remaining 19 percent of the potentially suitable
habitat throughout the species’ range.

The Morelet’s crocodile was listed as endangered throughout its entire
range on June 2, 1970, under the predecessor of the ESA. It was listed in
Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on July 1, 1975. CITES in an international
treaty that aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild
animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES Appendix I
includes species threatened with extinction that are or may be affected by
trade. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in
exceptional circumstances. The overharvest for commercial purposes was the
primary reason for the Morelet’s crocodile being listed under the ESA and
its inclusion in CITES.

As a result of the species’ improved status, on March 18, 2010, at the
Conference of the Parties (CoP), the Morelet’s crocodile populations in
Mexico and Belize were transferred to CITES Appendix II while prohibiting
trade in wild specimens for commercial purposes. Appendix II includes
species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but where trade must
be controlled in order to avoid use incompatible with their survival. The
new CITES Appendix II designation became effective on June 23, 2010. At
the request of Guatemala, however, those populations of Morelet’s
crocodiles in Guatemala will remain in CITES Appendix I.

Because trade in wild specimens is prohibited, international commercial
trade in Morelet’s crocodiles under CITES is limited to individuals from
sources other than the wild (e.g. captive-breeding operations). After the
effective date of this final rule, Morelet’s crocodile parts and products
originating from Mexico (and Belize, if any) captive-breeding operations
may be imported into the United States for commercial purposes, as long as
the exporting country finds that the export will not be detrimental to the
species, the specimen was lawfully acquired and the required CITES export
permit or re-export certificate has been issued.

The final rule to remove Morelet’s crocodile from the Federal List of
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife will publish in the Federal Register on
May 23, 2012, and become effective on June 22, 2012. A copy of the final
rule is available at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] by
clicking on the 2012 Final Rules under Endangered and Threatened Wildlife
and Plants.
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