You may already be aware of this action through local media outlets, but on October 9, 2018, the Service published a proposed rule to list the eastern black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis jamaicensis), a small, secretive marsh bird, as a threatened species under the ESA. Partially migratory, the eastern black rail is known to appear in as many as 36 states plus multiple territories and countries in the Caribbean and Central and South America. One of four subspecies of black rail, the eastern black rail, though rare, is broadly distributed but highly localized, and lives in salt, brackish, and freshwater marshes. The Service is not designating critical habitat for the eastern black rail at this time due to concerns that identifying such areas may attract birders seeking out these shy and elusive birds, placing additional stress on the bird.
The proposed rule has a 60-day public comment period that closes on December 10, 2018. The proposed rule, instructions on how to comment, and how to submit a request for a public hearing can be found at http://www.regulations.gov. In the search box, enter docket number FWS-R4-ES-2018-0057.
Additional information about the eastern black rail can be found here: https://www.fws.gov/southeast/wildlife/birds/eastern-black-rail/.
Senior Endangered Species Biologist
West Virginia Field Office
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
90 Vance Drive
Elkins, WV 26241
Phone: 304-636-6586 x 19
PS: Please note that there have only been two confirmed records for the black rail in the State of West Virginia. One in Hampshire County in 2012, and one in Mercer County in 1955. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly.