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Federal Agencies Look to Define Habitat for ESA

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service are seeking to amend the definition of "critical habitat" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by further defining the word "habitat," as "the physical places that individuals of a species depend upon to carry out one or more life processes. Habitat includes areas with existing attributes that have the capacity to support individuals of the species." The change is largely in response to a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision according to those seeking to update the definition. The move was criticised by certain environmental advocacy groups and praised by other groups concerned about protective measures being placed too broadly and beyond that which is truly critical to the survival of a species that is threatened or endangered. The FWS is currently seeking public comment on its proposed definition.

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