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July 20, 2023

NJDEP Fish & Wildlife Seeks Public Comment on the Selection Process for Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Comments due by September 5, 2023 at 5pm

Public Comment Request # 1 (SWAP Update)

NJDEP Fish & Wildlife is updating New Jersey’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) . State Wildlife Action Plans are focused on the conservation of species and habitats to prevent them from becoming more rare and costly to protect or restore.

These at-risk birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates are acknowledged as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) due to their vulnerability to threats and low and/or declining populations or data gaps. Without actions to conserve them, SGCN are likely to decline further over the next ten years, possibly leading them closer to endangerment or extirpation. The updated plan is due for submission to the US Fish & Wildlife Service in 2025.

The first step to updating the SWAP is updating the list of SGCN for New Jersey. This includes reviewing and updating the data sources used for selection and reevaluating the process for SGCN selection. The process proposed for the 2025 SWAP Update is identified below along with links to the specific information or criteria utilized. NJFW is seeking public comments on the three components of this updated SGCN selection process including, the information sources*, the Criteria Applied, and new Standardized Justifications used in the Fatal Flaw Analysis of the resulting SGCN list. Data Sources that were considered but not used in the screening are also included in Appendix A (pg. A-11).

Public comment is an important component in addressing the habitat and management needs of New Jersey’s Wildlife. This is the first of several opportunities for public comment towards the conservation of our state’s most imperiled species. We look forward to hearing from you.

SGCN Selection Process

1. Resources and Criteria Update

New Jersey Fish and Wildlife (NJFW) first evaluated all of New Jersey’s native, indigenous wildlife species and naturalized species using the best available assessments of their conservation statuses and trends in the state, the northeastern U.S., and beyond. The resources and criteria used to select SGCN in the 2018 Plan were reviewed and updated and include federal and state listing statuses, global, national, and regional status assignments, published assessments by taxonomic expert groups, and taxonomic conservation plans (see Appendix A ).

2. Preliminary SGCN Screening and Sorting Process

Like our 2018 Plan, Appendix A identifies the criteria used to screen species for SGCN selection. Using those criteria, all native species were screened and criteria placed them into one of three categories. The three categories are:

  • SGCN – species meeting one or more of the selection criteria.
  • Data Deficient SGCN – species listed as U (undetermined) through NJ’s status review process.
  • Not SGCN – the species is considered stable in NJ or did not meet any assessment triggers.

3. Verification Process (Fatal Flaw Analysis) – Standardized Justifications

NJFW Taxa Teams, made up of biologists from the Bureau of Marine Fisheries, Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries, Endangered and Nongame Species Program, and Bureau of Wildlife Management, then reviewed the screened list to verify (fatal flaw analysis) species were placed in the proper categories. To move a species from its initial screened category to another, biologists utilized a set of standardized justifications .

Public Comment

NJFW is seeking comments on the updated SGCN selection process described above including species selection resources, the screening criteria applied, and the new Standardized Justifications used in the Fatal Flaw Analysis of the screened SGCN list. Please use the links below to review and submit comments on the Process Used Selecting Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

There are two separate comment forms, one for SGCN selection Sources and Criteria (Step 1 and 2) and the other for comments related to the Standardized Justifications used in the Fatal Flaw Analysis (Step 3) of the final SGCN list.

Submitting Comments on SGCN Selection Process

NJFW is seeking comments on this updated SGCN selection process including the information sources*, the Screening Criteria Applied, and the Standardized Justifications used in the Fatal Flaw Analysis of the screened SGCN list.

CLICK HERE to review and comment on Selection Resources and Criteria used for SGCN screening.

CLICK HERE to review and comment on the Standardized Justifications used for the Fatal Flaw Analysis.

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Created: July 20th, 2023