Species Observations and Encounters

Each Proposed Restoration Project with the potential to encounter a Covered Species of reptile will submit a rescue and relocation plan to USFWS for review and approval at least 30 days before initiating construction. It is recommended that the rescue and relocation plan be provided as part of the ESA Section 7(a)(2) Review Form to reduce potential delays. General guidance to be considered during plan development is as follows: 1) leave the uninjured animal if it is not in danger; or 2) move the animal to a nearby location if it is in danger as described in REP-6, Species Handling and Relocation. These options are further described as follows:

– When a protected reptile is encountered in the project area, the priority is to stop all activities in the surrounding area that have the potential to result in the harm, injury, or death of the individual. The USFWS-Approved Biologist then needs to assess the situation to select the course of action that will minimize adverse effects to the individual.

– Avoid contact with the animal and allow it to move out of the project footprint and hazardous situation on its own, to a safe location. This guidance only applies to situations where an animal is encountered while moving through habitat and under conditions that will allow it to escape. This does not apply to animals that are uncovered or otherwise exposed or in areas where there is not enough adjacent habitat to support the life history of the protected reptiles if they move outside the construction footprint.

– Avoidance is the preferred option if the animal is not moving or is in some sort of burrow or other refugia. In this case, the area will be well marked for avoidance by construction equipment, and a USFWS-Approved Biologist will be assigned to the area when work is taking place nearby. If avoidance is not practicable or safe for the Covered reptile species, the Project Proponent will implement REP6.