What’s the Ideal Length for a Cover Letter? —Plus Tips to Get Yours There

person sitting at a window table in a cafe typing on laptop, with two plants on the table and more in the background

When you have a task to complete, it helps to know what the end product should look like. It's especially true when you’re doing something you might find difficult—like writing a cover letter . How long should it be? What information do you need to include?

Hiring managers and recruiters are busy people, so you don’t want to disqualify yourself by writing a cover letter that’s too long. But you do want to make sure your cover letter is effective. “The cover letter should serve as an introduction to your resume, highlighting why you’re interested in the position, what you’re looking for in your next role, and how you can potentially add value to the position or company,” says Muse career coach Yolanda Owens , who has over 20 years of recruiting experience. 

So how much space do you have to do all that? And how can you make the best use of that space?

How long should a cover letter be?

The ideal cover letter length is:

  • Less than one page
  • Three to five paragraphs
  • Less than 400 words

At least that’s the approximate consensus we came to based on research and input from a few experts who have worked as hiring managers, recruiters, or both.

If this feels short, “Keep in mind that the cover letter is not a tell-all of everything you've done,” says Muse coach Emily Liou , a recruiter and HR professional. “You just want enough to position yourself as a fit and to pique the curiosity of the reader.” You don’t need pages and pages to do that.

In a survey of 205 HR professionals, ResumeLab found that 42% of respondents preferred cover letters between half and one page and 40% preferred cover letters that were less than half a page. Only 18% said they preferred cover letters longer than one page. Muse coach Steven Davis , a technical recruiter, advocates for a cover letter that “can be comfortably read in less than a minute.”

How do you write a cover letter that's just the right length?

Here are a few tips that'll get your cover letter to the ideal length:

1. Pay attention to your structure.

You may remember the five-paragraph essay from school: introduction paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion paragraph. Cover letters are structured similarly.

Basically, you should lay out your cover letter like this:

  • Introduction (one paragraph): Your cover letter opening should be original and creative to draw your reader in. It should show your connections to the employer and your interest and excitement for the position, Liou says. You might also use this paragraph to explain that you’re making a career pivot or re-entering the workforce after an employment gap .
  • Body (one to three paragraphs): Your body paragraphs should focus on the ways you can help the organization or team, Owens says. Talk about what skills and experience you bring to the company, and back up what you’re saying with past examples—but keep them concise.
  • Conclusion (one paragraph): Your conclusion should be “a final paragraph thanking the reader for their time and reiterating your interest,” Owens says.

2. Figure out what matters to the employer.

“This is a great time to dissect what is most important to this position,” Liou says, so you can focus your cover letter on what your prospective employer cares about most. Go back to the job description and read it thoroughly. What’s listed first and what’s repeated? From there, Davis says, you should be able to identify the top skills and experiences they’re looking for.

Then, think about what in your background most exemplifies these qualifications—with an emphasis on situations where you’ve made an impact for your past employers, Liou says. These are the experiences you should recount in your cover letter.

3. Use concise examples to pique your readers’ interest.

Davis suggests using the “the STAR format without any details to create curiosity and motivate the interviewer to review the resume.” If you’re unfamiliar, the STAR method is a way of telling stories in an interview where you make sure that you hit on the situation, task, action, and result of the experience you’re recounting. Using a compact version of the STAR method in your cover letter will help show the impact you’ve had in past roles and how without adding too much length. So you might write something like:

“When my last company redesigned their website, I took the lead on layout, and by working as a constant liaison between our product team and our users, I helped produce a website that our users found 50% more intuitive and drew 33% more repeat users.”

4. Go beyond your resume—without regurgitating it.

“The cover letter should be a supplemental piece to your resume, not a summary,” Owens says. So don’t waste space regurgitating other parts of your application. “Use the cover letter to tell the employer what you want them to know about you that’s not on your resume,” or anywhere else, Owens says.

Focus your precious page or less on highlighting your relevant achievements and explicitly connecting your resume to the position. Don’t worry about including all of the context and details about your past jobs. For anything you talk about in a cover letter, your resume can “continue your narrative—filling in the remaining details of the where, when, and what of your work experiences and history,” Owens says.

5. Consider using bullet points.

And we don’t mean repeating your resume bullet points . We mean using a few bullet points to concisely relay a few key pieces of information that aren’t on your resume, but contribute to your qualifications as a candidate, without taking up too much space.

For example, Owens says you might create a “What I bring to the table” section with three to four bullet points (one or two sentences each). In a section like this, you can touch on a few more disparate topics such as your management or leadership style, pain points you can help your next employer with, or work environments you have experience thriving in, Owens says.

6. Use standard formatting.

Did you ever make your font size a bit larger or choose a slightly wider font to hit a page count on an essay for school? What about widening those margins? Did you ever do the opposite to slip in under a page maximum without having to do another editing pass at 3 a.m.? (Guilty!)

These tactics won’t fly for your cover letter (or your resume for that matter). Instead, stick to standard, easy-to-read formatting. Generally this means:

  • Common fonts like Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman
  • Font sizes between 10 and 12 point
  • Margin sizes of about one inch on the top, bottom, and sides
  • Lines that are single spaced (1.15 max) with an additional space between paragraphs if you'd like.

Don’t make your cover letter harder to read by cramming as much onto a page as possible. Also keep in mind that your cover letter often passes through the same applicant tracking system (ATS) that your resume does—so any flashy formatting could trip up the software that parses your application materials.

7. Trim the excess.

If your cover letter is still too long, take another look and trim out anything extra that doesn’t need to be there. Some things to cut include:

  • Content about how much you’d enjoy doing the work, Davis says—beyond what you need to express enthusiasm.
  • Mentions of years of experience: While the job description may call for three years of experience with a CRM (customer relationship management) program, you don’t need to use your cover letter to write a word problem where your six months experience from one internship, three months each from two classes, and two years at your last job equals three years.
  • Extra details in your examples, especially those that are found on your resume or don’t contribute to your strength as a candidate
  • Filtering language: This includes phrases like “I think” and “I feel.” You don’t “believe you can help” a company solve a problem, you can help a company solve a problem.
  • Overused or cliché phrases
  • Anything about what the job would do for you : Focus on what you can do for them.

Read More: How to Cut Your Cover Letter Down to One Page (Because Any Longer and No One's Reading)

8. Follow any instructions in the job description.

Finally, all of the above are just guidelines. The best indicator of what an employer is looking for in a cover letter—length-wise or otherwise—is the employer itself.

So if a job posting tells you that a cover letter should be a different length than we’ve indicated, default to the job description. If a job posting tells you that a cover letter should include different things than we’ve indicated, default to the job description. If a job posting tells you that you shouldn’t include a cover letter at all, default to the job description.

cover letter are generally page at most in length

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be in 2024?

Background Image

Finally, an organization posted your dream job. You crafted a flawless resume and now you’re ready to apply. You land on the cover letter section of the application and see that it is optional. Is it truly optional?

Will not submitting make me less likely to land the job? Where do I even start and how long should the cover letter be?

These are some things that might run through your head. But don’t panic, we are here to help. No matter what your career level is, your cover letter can set you apart from the other applicants. But how much do you have to write?

This can be a complicated question. Too much text? The hiring manager might glance over it. Too short? The recruiter may think that you didn’t put much thought or effort into writing the cover letter . 

Cover letters should range from a half-page to one full page. Your cover letter should never exceed one page in length.

  • Page Count: 0.5 to 1
  • Word count: 250 to 400
  • Paragraph count: 3 to 6

how long should a cover letter be

How to Keep Your Cover Letter to One Page

Tip #1: keep it concise.

While the cover letter is a great way to showcase your personality, it is also very important to be concise. Hiring managers are sifting through dozens, and maybe even hundreds, of applications.

They do not have time to read a full two-page article about your daily tasks. Instead, highlight any relevant experiences that show your qualifications for the specific job.

Demonstrate your passion for the industry and end the letter. The decision-maker will appreciate your brevity and may even reward you with an interview . 

Tip #2: Highlight Only Relevant Experiences

Unless the employer requests a specific word count, keep it short. Take only the amount of space required to show that you are an ideal candidate for the job.

Highlight your qualifications and any relevant stories. It’s important to be specific, and not regurgitate the content on your resume. 

It is very important here to showcase how your past achievements can help the company solve their current challenges and how you will use your skills if chosen for the position.

Doing so will show the recruiter or hiring manager the value you can bring to their organization. 

matching resume and cover letter

Tip #3: Break Your Cover Letter into Sections

An effective cover letter contains three to four paragraphs. It’s important to keep the sentences short so the reader can quickly navigate your cover letter.  

Paragraph #1: The Intro

The first paragraph should grab the decision-maker’s attention. This is an opportunity to show your interest in the position and knowledge of the company. Make sure you address your cover letter to the correct person or department. Always be sure to research the company and customize each cover letter to the position you are applying for. 

Example: “I am excited to submit my application for the position of [insert position name] with [insert company name]. I have watched your growth for years and really appreciate the devotion to serving your customer’s needs.” 

Paragraph #2: Your Qualifications

The second paragraph should highlight relevant stories or stats that impress your qualifications. For example, “In the previous company, I grew sales by 150% in my first year and 200% in my second year.” It is helpful if you can be specific in how you achieved success or benefited the company in some way. This highlights what you bring to the table and how you can make an impact on the hiring manager’s business. 

Paragraph #3: Your Interest in the Company

The third paragraph, if you choose to include it, can speak to what drew you to apply to the specific company. This can sway the hiring manager's decision by showing passion and loyalty to the company. 

Paragraph #4: The Closing

The final paragraph should reiterate your interest in the position. It is a great time to thank the reader for their consideration and request an in-person meeting. It’s important to have a call-to-action so the reader knows what to do next. Always include detailed contact information. 

Tip #4: Experience Level

Cover letters can vary based on your experience level. If you are applying for jobs right out of college, don’t include metrics measured in school, such as GPA, unless requested. Instead, focus on your experiences, projects and achievements that make you a strong candidate. 

If you are in the middle of your career, pick out relevant accomplishments and state your experience level. For example, “With 12 years of teaching experience, I am writing to express my interest in the open position in your Mathematics Department.” 

If you have more experience, you likely have more relevant qualifications and stories. This may entice you to make your cover letter longer. Do not fall into the trap.

Longer does not mean better . Select a few key successes and leave others for the interview process. 

cover letter one page length

Tip #5: Formatting

The format is just as important as the length of your cover letter. Pay attention to the amount of white space on the page. More white space keeps the content easier to read for the recruiter or hiring manager.

You want to make sure that you use a font that is legible (as the ones handpicked by our team together with recruiters). Keep standard margins and align your text to the left. 

Writing a cover letter can be intimidating. If you remember to keep your writing concise and highlight only your relevant experiences, you will be on your way to snagging an interview in no time.

Suggested Reading:

  • How to Write a Cover Letter in 2024
  • Resume Formats Guide: How to Pick the Best in 2024
  • Cover Letter Examples

cookies image

To provide a safer experience, the best content and great communication, we use cookies. Learn how we use them for non-authenticated users.

Resumehead

  • Career Blog

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? The Optimal Length

cover letter are generally page at most in length

A cover letter is an important tool when applying for a job. It’s a document that you submit alongside your resume, and it’s your chance to communicate directly with the hiring manager. A well-crafted cover letter can make a great first impression and set you apart from other job applicants.

The purpose of this article is to provide guidance on how long a cover letter should be. The optimal length of a cover letter is a common question among job seekers, and there are conflicting opinions on the topic. Some say that a cover letter should be no more than one page, while others argue that it’s okay to go over two pages.

In this article, we’ll discuss the different factors that affect the length of a cover letter, such as the job you’re applying for, your level of experience, and the company you’re applying to. We’ll also examine the pros and cons of shorter versus longer cover letters.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of what the optimal length of a cover letter is in different situations so that you can create a cover letter that is concise, yet effective. Whether you’re a recent graduate or an experienced professional, this article will provide you with valuable insights on how to write a cover letter that will impress hiring managers and land you the job you want.

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a document that accompanies your resume or CV when you are applying for a job. It is usually in the form of a one-page letter that introduces yourself to the hiring manager and explains why you are the best candidate for the job. The cover letter is an essential part of the job application process, and it can make or break your chances of getting an interview.

Definition and Explanation of a Cover Letter

The purpose of a cover letter is to complement your resume, not repeat it. While your resume is a summary of your education, experience and skills, your cover letter is your chance to showcase your personality, explain why you are passionate about the job and highlight your achievements.

cover letter are generally page at most in length

A well-written cover letter should be tailored to the specific job you are applying for. It should be brief, informative, and engaging. A good cover letter should highlight your key skills, experiences and achievements that relate to the job. It should also demonstrate your understanding of the company culture and explain why you are a good fit for the role.

Importance of Sending One with Your Resume

Sending a cover letter with your resume is crucial. A cover letter can give the hiring manager more context about your professional experience and qualifications, and help you stand out from other applicants. It shows that you have put effort into your job application and that you are committed to the job.

Furthermore, a cover letter is an opportunity to showcase your writing skills. Many employers use a cover letter to assess your written communication skills, so it’s important to make sure it is well-written, clear and concise.

A well-written cover letter is essential when you are applying for a job. It is an opportunity to showcase your personality, explain why you are passionate about the job, and highlight your key skills and achievements. Sending a cover letter with your resume can make you stand out from other applicants and demonstrate that you are committed to the job.

The Role of a Cover Letter in Your Job Search

A cover letter is an essential component of your job application, and it can significantly impact your chances of getting hired. It serves as an introduction to your resume and highlights your qualifications, skills, and experience that match the job requirements.

How a Cover Letter Affects Your Chances of Getting Hired

According to research, more than 50% of hiring managers consider a cover letter to be crucial when evaluating job candidates. It provides them with more information about you compared to just a resume, making it easier for them to determine if you’re the right fit for the job.

A well-written cover letter can show your personality, professionalism, and communication skills. It can also demonstrate why you’re the best candidate for the position and how you can contribute to the company’s success.

On the other hand, a poorly written cover letter can hurt your chances of getting hired. It can make you appear unprofessional, uninterested, or unqualified for the job, even if your resume suggests otherwise.

Explaining Why Some Hiring Managers Still Require a Cover Letter

Despite the debates about whether a cover letter is necessary, many hiring managers still require it as part of the job application process. There are several reasons for this:

1. To evaluate your communication skills

A cover letter is a written document, and it allows the hiring manager to assess your writing skills and communication abilities. Employers are always seeking employees who can express themselves concisely and effectively.

2. To gauge your interest and motivation

cover letter are generally page at most in length

A cover letter shows that you’re serious about the job and you’ve taken the time to learn about the company and the position. It captures your motivation for applying and why you think you’re a great fit. It’s an opportunity to express your enthusiasm and demonstrate your knowledge of the company’s mission and culture.

3. To highlight your personality and personal brand

A well-written cover letter can showcase your personality and personal brand. It allows the hiring manager to get a glimpse of who you are and how you conduct yourself professionally. This can help you stand out from other applicants, especially if you’re applying for a highly competitive position.

A cover letter plays an essential role in your job search. It can significantly affect your chances of getting hired and open doors to new opportunities. Even if some hiring managers don’t require it, it’s always good to include a well-crafted cover letter as part of your job application.

Factors that Affect Cover Letter Length

It’s essential to note that the length of a cover letter is influenced by several factors. These include the industry, company type, job level, and requirements. Understanding how these factors affect the optimal length of your cover letter can help you tailor it accordingly and increase your chances of landing the job.

How the Industry and Company Type Impact the Optimal Length

The industry and company type you are applying to can impact the optimal length of your cover letter. Some industries, such as creative or marketing fields, may appreciate a more extended form of communication that highlights your creativity and writing skills. On the other hand, industries such as finance and law may prefer a more concise and straightforward approach.

Moreover, larger companies may receive a high volume of applications and may have an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that scans cover letters for keywords. Therefore, a shorter and more concise cover letter may be ideal for these types of organizations.

How the Job Level and Requirements Affect the Length

The job level and requirements also have a significant impact on the optimal length of your cover letter. For entry-level positions, a one-page cover letter that highlights your relevant skills and experience may be sufficient. In contrast, higher-level positions or managerial roles may require a longer cover letter that demonstrates your leadership abilities and accomplishments.

Additionally, specific job requirements listed in the job posting should also guide the length of your cover letter. For example, if the job posting requests a portfolio or other supporting documentation, you may be able to keep your cover letter more concise. Conversely, if the job requires you to demonstrate proficiency in a specific skill, such as project management, your cover letter may need to be more detailed to showcase your experience in this area.

Understanding the factors that impact the optimal length of your cover letter is critical to crafting a winning application. By tailoring your cover letter to the industry, company type, job level, and requirements, you increase your chances of impressing the hiring manager and securing an interview.

Optimal Cover Letter Length for Entry-Level Job Seekers

As a new graduate or job seeker with less experience, you may be wondering how long your cover letter should be.

Here are some guidelines and tips to help you craft the perfect cover letter:

Guideline for new graduates and job seekers with less experience

Your cover letter should be long enough to convey your qualifications and interest in the position, but short enough to hold the reader’s attention. As an entry-level job seeker, you may not have as much experience to showcase, so focusing on your unique strengths and eagerness to learn can help make you stand out.

Examples and tips for writing a concise cover letter

  • Start with a strong opening that grabs the reader’s attention and showcases your enthusiasm for the position.
  • Keep your paragraphs short and focused, highlighting your relevant experience and qualifications.
  • Be specific about your skills and how they can benefit the company. Use examples to illustrate your points.
  • Use a professional tone and avoid being too casual or informal.
  • Close with a strong statement that reiterates your interest in the position and invites further discussion.

Remember, a well-crafted cover letter can make all the difference in landing an interview, so take the time to make it concise, focused, and impactful.

Optimal Cover Letter Length for Mid-Career Professionals

For mid-career professionals, crafting a cover letter can be a challenging task. On one hand, you want to showcase your expertise and experience to potential employers. On the other hand, you don’t want to bore them with a lengthy document. So what’s the optimal length for a cover letter for mid-career professionals?

Guidelines for Individuals with a Few Years of Experience

If you have a few years of experience, it’s best to keep your cover letter concise and to the point. Ideally, your cover letter shouldn’t exceed one page. You should aim to highlight your most relevant experience and qualifications, without getting too detailed.

Tips for Crafting an Effective Cover Letter

Here are some tips to help you craft an effective cover letter:

  • Start strong: Use the first paragraph to introduce yourself and grab the reader’s attention. You can mention your relevant experience, or an interesting anecdote that sets you apart.
  • Highlight your most relevant experience: In the body of the cover letter, focus on your most relevant experience and qualifications. Make sure to mention the skills and achievements that make you a good fit for the job.
  • Avoid repeating your resume: Your cover letter should complement your resume, not repeat it. Don’t simply list your job titles and responsibilities – focus on the impact you’ve made in your previous roles.
  • Show your enthusiasm: Show your enthusiasm for the job and the company by explaining why you’re interested in the role. Do your research and mention something specific that you like about the company or the industry.
  • Close with a strong call to action: In the final paragraph, make sure to thank the reader for their time and express your interest in the role. Don’t be afraid to ask for an interview, or to follow up on your application.

By following these guidelines and tips, you’ll be able to craft an effective cover letter that showcases your experience and expertise, while keeping it concise and to the point.

Optimal Cover Letter Length for Senior-Level Executives

As a seasoned professional or high-level executive, crafting an effective cover letter can be a daunting task. The challenge lies in balancing brevity with comprehensive information about your qualifications and achievements. Therefore, it is vital to adhere to specific guidelines to ensure that your cover letter does not come off as too lengthy or too brief.

Within this word count, be sure to highlight your most crucial skills, accomplishments, and experience relevant to the position in question. It is critical to give the hiring manager a clear picture of what you can offer to the company without overwhelming them with unnecessary details.

Here are a few tips to help you write a comprehensive cover letter:

Begin with a strong opening line that indicates your interest in the job and highlights your unique selling point.

Tailor your message to the company culture and requirements, demonstrating your knowledge of the organization and how you can contribute to its success.

Use bullet points to present your achievements and qualifications in an easy-to-read format.

Highlight your experience with figures and other measurable criteria that showcase your ability to drive results.

Remember that a cover letter should complement—not duplicate—your resume. Therefore, avoid merely listing qualifications and job titles already mentioned in your resume. Instead, use the opportunity to elaborate on specific experiences that demonstrate your fit for the position.

Keep your cover letter short and to the point while still providing enough information to show why you are the best candidate for the job. Utilize the tips above to write a compelling and comprehensive cover letter that leaves a memorable impression.

How to Make Your Cover Letter Concise and Relevant

Tips for editing and narrowing down the content:.

  • Start with a strong opening that grabs the reader’s attention and introduces your relevant skills and experience.
  • Use bullet points to list your achievements and qualifications, rather than lengthy paragraphs that may be overwhelming for the reader.
  • Avoid repeating information that is already included in your resume or application.
  • Be selective in highlighting your most relevant experience and skills that match the job requirements.

Strategies for making every word count:

  • Use action verbs to describe your achievements and contributions.
  • Focus on the impact you made in your previous roles, such as increased revenue or improved processes.
  • Showcase your unique qualifications and accomplishments, rather than generic or common skills.
  • Eliminate unnecessary adjectives or redundant phrases that do not add value to your application.

By following these tips and strategies, you can make sure that your cover letter is concise and relevant, while still showcasing your qualifications and experience. Remember that the optimal length of a cover letter is around 250-400 words, so aim to make every word count within this limit.

How to make your Cover Letter Comprehensive and Meaningful

Your cover letter is your chance to make a strong first impression and provide a deeper understanding of your skills and experience to the hiring manager. Here are some strategies for making your cover letter comprehensive and meaningful:

Strategies for adding depth and relevance to your cover letter:

  • Customize your cover letter for each job application to showcase how your skills and experience align with the job requirements.
  • Use specific examples to demonstrate your achievements and how they can benefit the company.
  • Research the company’s mission and values to show your alignment with the company culture.
  • Use industry-specific language to show your knowledge and expertise.

Tips for showcasing your skills and experience:

  • Use storytelling techniques to engage the reader and create a connection with the hiring manager.
  • Start by highlighting your most impressive achievements and then explain how they have prepared you for the job.
  • Keep the cover letter concise and focused on your most relevant experiences.
  • Use bullet points to break up longer paragraphs and make the cover letter easier to read.

A comprehensive and meaningful cover letter should showcase your skills and experience while being concise, focused, and customized to the job you are applying for. Use storytelling techniques and specific examples to engage the reader and show how you can contribute to the company’s success.

Appendices (if applicable)

Here are some example cover letter sections that you can use as a reference when crafting your own:

Introduction  – This section should include the purpose of the letter, the position you are applying for, and how you found out about the job opportunity.

Body  – This is where you should highlight your relevant skills, experience, and achievements that make you a strong candidate for the position. You should also mention why you are interested in the company and how you can contribute to their success.

Closing  – In this section, you should express your gratitude for considering your application and request for an interview to further discuss your qualifications.

And here are some sample cover letters that you can use as a guide when determining the optimal length:

Sample 1 (280 words)

Dear Hiring Manager,

I am writing to apply for the position of Marketing Coordinator at XYZ Company. As a recent graduate with a degree in marketing and a demonstrated ability to develop and execute successful marketing campaigns, I am confident that I am the right fit for this role.

In my previous internship and freelance work, I have gained experience in social media management, email marketing, and content creation. Additionally, my attention to detail and ability to work collaboratively have contributed to successful campaigns and satisfied clients.

I am passionate about the work that XYZ Company does and I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to your team. Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss my qualifications further.

[Your Name]

Sample 2 (450 words)

Dear [Hiring Manager],

I am writing to express my interest in the [Job Title] position at your company. With [Number of Years] years of experience in [Industry or Field], I am confident that I am the ideal candidate for the job.

In my current position at [Current Company], I have successfully [Key Achievement or Responsibility]. Additionally, I have [Skill or Qualification] that I believe will enable me to excel in this role. I am excited about the opportunity to bring my expertise and passion for [Industry or Field] to this position at [Company].

In addition to my relevant experience and qualifications, I am highly organized and a strong communicator. I am able to manage multiple competing priorities while maintaining high-quality work and delivering projects on time.

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss my qualifications and learn more about this exciting opportunity at your company.

As you can see, both samples are concise yet effective in showcasing the applicant’s qualifications and interest in the position. The optimal length of a cover letter should be around 250-400 words, depending on the job and industry. It’s important to remember that the cover letter should complement your resume, not repeat it. Focus on highlighting your unique qualifications and demonstrating your enthusiasm for the position and company.

Related Articles

  • Financial Analyst Resume: The Ultimate Guide
  • Panel Interview: What They Are and How to Prepare
  • 11 Store Clerk Resume Examples to Land Your Dream Job
  • Front End Developer Resume: Example & Writing Guide
  • Wealth Manager Job Description: A Blueprint for Success

Rate this article

5 / 5. Reviews: 1

cover letter are generally page at most in length

More from ResumeHead

cover letter are generally page at most in length

Career Sidekick

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? (Examples)

By Biron Clark

Published: November 10, 2023

Cover Letters

Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Writer & Career Coach

If you’re wondering how long a cover letter should be, this article has everything you need to know (including exactly how many words to make your cover letter).

I’m going to share why most job seekers are making their cover letters far too long, and why you will likely get more job interviews by writing less in your cover letter.

Let’s get started…

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

Cover letters should be one page long and total 75 to 250 words. This recommendation applies to both printed and email cover letters. It’s okay if your cover letter doesn’t take up an entire page, but it should never exceed one full page.

Job seekers needing to explain gaps in employment , a recent change in career path, etc., may want to utilize more words in their cover letter than someone with a more standard background.

A job seeker who is staying within their current industry and career path (e.g. moving from Software Engineer to Senior Software Engineer) and not needing to explain a lengthy work gap should aim to be on the lower end of the recommended cover letter word count mentioned above — somewhere between 70 and 150 words.

As an example, my favorite cover letter template from Harvard Business Review has only 76 words:

How long should a cover letter be - example of ideal word count

As you customize this cover letter, the word count will likely rise a bit, but it’ll remain much shorter than what most job seekers send. And that’s a good thing!

This type of letter is going to be very different than what most job seekers are sending and what you’ve seen recommended online, and that’s often a plus.

Coming up soon, I’ll explain why a shorter cover letter may improve your odds of hearing back on a job application.

How Many Paragraphs Should a Cover Letter Include?

The typical cover letter should contain three to six paragraphs. Each paragraph should be relatively short, containing two to four sentences. This is especially important in the first paragraph of your cover letter, where you want to entice the reader and encourage them to keep reading by providing a short, punchy opening.

In general, when writing to grab someone’s attention, focus heavily on making the first paragraph compelling, because this is your first impression or “elevator pitch,” for why they should keep reading.

Now that you know how long a cover letter should be, let’s look at some specific benefits of using this length, which is shorter than some people recommend.

Reasons to Consider a Shorter Cover Letter

Now that you know how many words a cover letter should be, let’s talk about why I recommend this as the ideal length, even though some career experts recommend your cover letter be longer.

There are four things that happen when you keep your cover letter relatively short…

1. You Stand Out by Being Different

Here’s an example of a typical full-page cover letter that many job seekers are sending:

cover letter are generally page at most in length

If you’ve sent something like that in the past, it’s NOT your fault…

Almost every website with cover letter templates recommends this format, and it’s what you’re constantly told to send.

But that’s the beauty of limiting your cover letter to my ideal cover letter length of 75 to 250 words. It’s different than what everyone else is doing!

From the first glance, you’re showing the hiring manager that your cover letter is unique and worth reading closely . You show that you’re not going to bore them half to sleep with yet another generic letter containing info from a template or info that’s already on your resume.

Whereas, if you send a full-page cover letter like the image/example above, the hiring manager is thinking, “Okay, here’s another huge page of info to read through that’s probably based on a template.”

This happens to them over and over, all day.

That brings me to my next benefit…

2. You Get Your Cover Letter Read (Not Skimmed!)

Most job seekers send cover letters that so long-winded that nobody wants to read them. The hiring manager may read to the second or third paragraph, but they’re unlikely to through to the end.

Beyond that, job hunters send cover letters that repeat information from their resume, which doesn’t provide any value to the hiring manager or recruiter .

But because your cover letter is short, and ideally has small paragraphs, it’s inviting to read. Hiring managers open your email or letter and think, “Great, I can read this no problem.”

So they read your cover letter from start to finish without skipping a word!

This is why you should always send the hiring manager a short cover letter where each line has a purpose and message and does something to sell them on why you deserve the interview.

You don’t have to take my word for it, though. Test it! Send half of your cover letters in the standard, full-page style seen above, but with the other half, test what I’m suggesting here. Greatly reduce the word count, get right to the point, only offer info that’s not on your resume.

We’ve now looked at two reasons why the full-page cover letter is not the ideal length/approach. But I’ve got two more reasons for you…

3. You Draw Attention to Your Strongest Points/Skills

If you’re naming 20 different skills and qualifications in your cover letter, it’s hard for a recruiter or hiring manager to pick out the most important pieces.

Whereas, if you just name your three or four strongest arguments for why you’d be a great fit for their job description, those points will stand out (and get read, as mentioned above).

Sometimes less is more, and with cover letters, it’s often the case!

So this is another factor to consider when deciding how long your cover letter should be.

4. You Get Your “Call to Action” Read So You Win More Interviews

Finally, you should end each cover letter with a “Call to Action,” which I’ll explain in the next section.

This is where you ask for the interview, which is something many job seekers don’t do properly (or don’t do at all) in their cover letter.

And by keeping your letter brief, this closing paragraph comes relatively quickly… sometimes as the third or fourth paragraph… so it’s much more likely to get the reader’s full attention which means you’ll get more interviews.

Recommended Cover Letter Font Size

The best font size for your cover letter is 12 points, whether you’re sending a printed or an email cover letter. Avoid fancy fonts and choose a simple, easy-to-read font like Calibri or Arial. Include plenty of white space and small, punchy paragraphs. It’s better to have multiple, concise paragraphs in your cover letter than one or two very long paragraphs. This helps with readability.

How to End Your Cover Letter: Ask for the Interview

This is one other mistake a lot of job seekers make with their cover letters, along with repeating info on the resume and just being far too long-winded. They don’t ask for the interview in their closing paragraph!

The whole point of the cover letter is to win you job interviews . So after you’ve got the specific word count you want, make sure to finish up by actually asking the hiring manager to call you and set up a time to discuss in more detail!

Here’s an example of how you could conclude an email cover letter:

I’d love to discuss the position over the phone and provide a bit more context for how I can help you in this role. Are you available for a phone call later this week or early next week? My phone number is 555-218-4987.

Or, simply use the cover letter conclusion from the first example in this article, from Harvard Business Review:

I have attached my resume for your review and would welcome the chance to speak with you sometime.

However, I prefer a slightly stronger conclusion to a cover letter that really prompts the hiring manager to reply to a direct question. That should get you more responses from your cover letter, no matter your cover letter length!

Conclusion: How Many Words Should a Cover Letter Be?

To reiterate how long a cover letter should be, I recommend sticking to 250 words or less and never exceeding one page.

It’s beneficial to keep your letter short and concise for both a printed cover letter and a cover letter sent by email.

The shorter format allows you to focus on your strongest points and grab the hiring manager’s attention without overwhelming them with too much text or info. This will help you get more interviews and separate you from other job seekers who send long, generic, cut-and-paste cover letters with their applications.

However, as mentioned earlier, the length of your cover letter will vary depending on the industry (in a very formal, traditional industry, you may want to go for a slightly longer word count).

If you have an unusual scenario to explain, then your ideal cover letter length may be longer, too.

So don’t take the advice above as a hard-and-fast rule, but just a general guideline on how long a typical cover letter should be to win more job interviews.

As a final step, make sure to proofread everything! Sending a cover letter with a typo or mistake can cost you the job interview even if you have great qualifications and writing style.

More cover letter resources:

  • Do you need to send a cover letter?
  • How to write a cover letter with no experience
  • 3 steps to writing a cover letter that stands out

Biron Clark

About the Author

Read more articles by Biron Clark

Continue Reading

How to Write a Graphic Designer Cover Letter (3 Examples)

How to write a paralegal cover letter (2 examples), how to write a medical assistant cover letter (3 examples), how to write a research assistant cover letter (3 examples), how to write a software engineer cover letter (3 examples), how to write a hr cover letter (4 examples), how to write a data analyst cover letter (3 examples), how to write a bartender cover letter (3 examples).

Privacy preference center

We care about your privacy

When you visit our website, we will use cookies to make sure you enjoy your stay. We respect your privacy and we’ll never share your resumes and cover letters with recruiters or job sites. On the other hand, we’re using several third party tools to help us run our website with all its functionality.

But what exactly are cookies? Cookies are small bits of information which get stored on your computer. This information usually isn’t enough to directly identify you, but it allows us to deliver a page tailored to your particular needs and preferences.

Because we really care about your right to privacy, we give you a lot of control over which cookies we use in your sessions. Click on the different category headings on the left to find out more, and change our default settings.

However, remember that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of our website. Finally, note that we’ll need to use a cookie to remember your cookie preferences.

Without these cookies our website wouldn’t function and they cannot be switched off. We need them to provide services that you’ve asked for.

Want an example? We use these cookies when you sign in to Kickresume. We also use them to remember things you’ve already done, like text you’ve entered into a registration form so it’ll be there when you go back to the page in the same session.

Thanks to these cookies, we can count visits and traffic sources to our pages. This allows us to measure and improve the performance of our website and provide you with content you’ll find interesting.

Performance cookies let us see which pages are the most and least popular, and how you and other visitors move around the site.

All information these cookies collect is aggregated (it’s a statistic) and therefore completely anonymous. If you don’t let us use these cookies, you’ll leave us in the dark a bit, as we won’t be able to give you the content you may like.

We use these cookies to uniquely identify your browser and internet device. Thanks to them, we and our partners can build a profile of your interests, and target you with discounts to our service and specialized content.

On the other hand, these cookies allow some companies target you with advertising on other sites. This is to provide you with advertising that you might find interesting, rather than with a series of irrelevant ads you don’t care about.

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be in 2023? (+Examples)

Kaja Jurčišinová — Staff Writer

Do you want to know what the perfect length of a cover letter is? What is the ideal number of words that a cover letter should have? And how many paragraphs should you include?  If you are looking for answers to these and more cover letter questions, you are in the right place.

The quick answer is that a cover letter should never be longer than a page, 400 words, or six paragraphs.

However, if you want to dive deeper into the cover letter nuances and become a real expert, you are in the right place. So, if you want to learn in detail how to write the perfect cover letter of a perfect length, just keep reading.

For more general information about cover letters , go and have a look at the first article from our series Cover Letter Guide: What is the Cover Letter. There, you will find a definition of what a cover letter is, what makes it different from a letter of motivation, and a short guide on how to write a great cover letter.

Find out your resume score!

Resume Analytics

What is the ideal cover letter length for 2023?

When it comes to cover letters,  the longer, the better  does not apply.  Even if you have years of expertise and you worked extremely hard on gathering professional skills and experiences  — and now you want to show it off all in detail on four pages — don’t.

Sometimes, less is more. This is the case for a good cover letter. It is crucial to highlight the experiences that are truly relevant to the advertised position. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time to talk about your skills and achievements in more detail once you get the interview.

Rather, think of a cover letter as a tasteful, comprehensive, short advertisement. You want to catch the attention of a hiring manager and make it clear that you are a highly experienced professional fit for the role. Yet, at the same time, you don’t want to bore and overwhelm the person who is making the selection in the first round of the hiring process.

It is important to realize that in large companies, the hiring manager and the HR department have a very short time to go through your application.  On average, per one vacancy, there  are  up to 250 applicants. This means you must make your cover letter stand out from the crowd – but also be easy to read.

What follows are the tips on how to do it!

Read the instructions

Always make sure you read the employers’ instructions properly.  In many vacancy announcements, there is a clear list of what is required from an applicant. Often, these also indicate the expected length and form of a cover letter.

If specific regulations are not included, don’t worry. In this case, you can go for the standardized version of a cover letter.

Junior vs Senior

If you are at the start of your career  and are applying for a junior position   where it is expected to have a lack of practical experience, writing around 200 words is perfectly acceptable. A cover letter for an internship can be equally long. If you don’t have prior experience, you can focus on your inner motivation, education, and extra-curricular activities.

For an experienced candidate , the word count can be doubled. However, it really shouldn’t exceed 400 words in any scenario – unless specifically requested. At the same time,  a cover letter should never exceed 1 page.  If you do so, you completely disobey all the rules of this genre, and it won't work to your advantage.

While this length may sound too short, and you may feel tempted to write more about many of your professional accomplishments, it may eliminate you from the selection process. Being selective and cutting straight to the point makes you a better candidate as opposed to one who writes their whole life story.

How long should a cover letter be by Kickresume

Career vs Academic cover letter

The rules listed in the previous paragraph are almost universally true when we speak of a career cover letter.

However, an academic cover letter is conventionally longer. If you are wondering how long an academic cover letter should be, know that  the standard length is one page and a half . On the other hand, it is never longer than two pages.

Cover letter heading length

The same cover letter rules apply here, too. A short, simple, and catchy heading will get you far.

Do not exceed two sentences; one is advisable. Either use your full name or a catchphrase, such as: “ Why am I the best for the role of XY ”. However, do this only when you are sure that the company and the position that you are interested in aren't too formal.

How long should the first paragraph be

This paragraph is to capture the attention of the reader.  It does not have to be longer than two or three sentences.  State who you are, where and how you found the opportunity, and why you are interested in it. Do this in a catchy way, though! If you heard about the position from a person in common, do not hesitate to mention their name.

Remember, the first paragraph is short – do not waste words. Make yourself an attractive candidate right from the beginning, and mention your biggest assets right here – such as the length of experience or quality of your education.

How long should the second paragraph be

Arguably the most important part of your cover letter. Therefore,  you should make the second paragraph the most extensive and longest part of your cover letter.  Write about your accomplishments and past work experiences in detail. Explain why you are the best candidate for the role and what your skills are that no one else has.

On the other hand, remember —  you still must write at least one more paragraph in the body of the cover letter, as well as the closing paragraph. Therefore, don’t go overboard with the length.

The best thing to do is to initially write freely and more. Then, you can cut the number of words down later during later stages of editing. This way, you won’t limit your creativity from the start by being too focused on the correct word count.

How many words/paragraphs should a cover letter be

  • As we've already stressed, your cover letter shouldn’t be too long. Keep it under one page. However, sometimes only half a page may not be long enough. Find the right balance.
  • When it comes to the number of words, never exceed 400 words. 250-300 words are the ideal length of an average cover letter.
  • The perfect number of paragraphs in a cover letter ranges from three to four.  The maximum number of paragraphs that are acceptable is six.

Cover letter examples by length

If you want to see the instructions applied in real life, have a look at the cover letter examples of various lengths examples below. All three of these people managed to land the job by using the kickresume cover letter template ! 

Cover letter example 1: Short version: Half a page

Cover Letter Example short by Kickresume

Cover letter example 2: Medium version: Between half a page and a page

Cover Letter Example medium by Kickresume

Cover letter example 3: Long version: A page

Cover leter example long by Kickresume

If you liked these  cover letter samples  and you want your cover letter to look the same, use  one of our  cover letter templates!  You can go for the free or the premium version. It is super easy to use, so you’re just a click away from the cover letter of your dreams!

Cover letter formatting

Not only length but also the way you format the cover letter matters. Your goal is to  make it very easy to read.  You will achieve this by keeping your cover letter structured, nicely designed, and well-formatted. Here are the tips on how to achieve this:

  • When it comes to the font of a cover letter,  try to imagine being a busy hiring manager. You want to make their job as easy as possible – so go for a font that is easy to read. At the same time, you want to create a professional impression. In other words, the best font for your cover letter would be the classic  Times New Roman, Arial , or  Calibri . However, if you are confident enough to experiment and you want to make your cover letter stand out from the crowd with a more eye-catching design, go for it. But forget to ensure that the text should be easy to navigate and read – that is the priority. 
  • The letter size  matters, too. Anything between 10.5 and 12 is good. You don’t want to make the letters too small, so they would be hard to read, or too large, so you don’t exceed one page.
  • The margins  of a cover letter are conventionally 1.5 or 1.
  • A cover letter should never be   double-spaced. You want to fit all the information on one page — with double spacing, you wouldn’t be able to.

How long should an email cover letter be? 

Today, unless specifically instructed to do otherwise, the cover letter is conventionally sent as an email attachment.

Just like with the cover letter itself, sending a short and precise email is better than a long and overly complicated one.

In your email you must include:

  • a relevant subject:  if the subject title is not included in the vacancy instructions, use the name of the position for which you are applying;
  • a polite greeting:  address the person by their full name/if not available, Dear Sir/Madam will do
  • refer to your attached cover letter and resume;
  • express hopes for the future , consider attaching a phone number where they can reach you;
  • close with best regards/best wishes and your full name and surname;

Email cover letter length examples

Email cover letter example 1.

cover letter are generally page at most in length

Email cover letter example 2

Email cover letter example 2

Email cover letter example 3

Email cover letter example 3

And that’s about it. There is no need to make it too elaborate – all the important information is in the attachment.

Now hit that send sign and wait for the response. After listening to all the advice, we have no doubts you will receive positive news. The Kickresume team wishes you the best of luck!

Now, when you have that cover letter in your pocket, we are sure you also want an amazing-looking resume. The good news is that you are just a click away from our Kickresume CV templates!  You can even easily  turn your LinkedIn profile into a great resume .

FAQ: How long should a cover letter be in 2023

What is the ideal word length of a cover letter.

Your cover letter should be between 250 to 400 words long.

A cover letter isn't required – should I still send it?

Yes, this is your chance to stand out from the crowd of applicants and make it clear that you’re willing to put in the effort.

Is a 1000-word cover letter too long?

Yes, it is. It's never advised to exceed 400, max. 500 words.

Is it ok to have a cover letter that is two pages long?

No, you should always limit your cover letter to only one page. Recruiters don't have time to read long essays. They also like familiarity and known formats.

Kaja Jurčišinová — Staff Writer

Kaja Jurčišinová

Kaja Jurcisinova is a fresh graduate and a junior copywriter at Kickresume. Kaja completed her undergraduate degree in Art History at the University of St Andrews in 2018 and graduated with a Master’s in Arts and Culture from the University of Groningen in 2021. She was an intern at multiple cultural institutions across Europe, including the Dutch Museum Association in Amsterdam, the Matter of Art Biennale in Prague, and the European Cultural Centre in Venice. At the moment, she resides in Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland.

Hungry for more?

How to write a professional resume summary [+examples], how to put your education on a resume [+examples], how to describe your work experience on a resume [+examples], let your resume do the work..

Join 5,000,000 job seekers worldwide and get hired faster with your best resume yet.

english template

Protect your data

This site uses cookies and related technologies for site operation, and analytics as described in our Privacy Policy . You may choose to consent to our use of these technologies, reject non-essential technologies, or further manage your preferences.

  • Resume and Cover Letter
  • What is the perfect cover...

What is the perfect cover letter length?

8 min read · Updated on May 08, 2023

Marsha Hebert

Finding the perfect balance between concise and complete can be a challenge

When applying for a job, the cover letter can often be the key factor that sets you apart from other candidates. A cover letter serves as an opportunity to showcase your skills, experience, and personality and can give hiring managers a glimpse into what you have to offer. 

However, one of the biggest challenges in creating a cover letter is determining the ideal length. So, what is the perfect length for your cover letter? The answer can depend on the job you're applying for, the company culture, and the expectations of the hiring manager. 

In this article, we'll provide tips on how to create a standout letter and offer guidance on determining the ideal cover letter length that will make the right impression on potential employers.

How long should a cover letter be?

While there's no set rule for how many words your cover letter should be, the length will depend on the amount of information you need to convey and the style you choose to write in. 

However, as a general guideline, it's recommended to keep your cover letter to one page, with each paragraph consisting of 3-4 sentences. This works out to between 300 and 500 words and ensures that your document is concise and easy to read - while still providing enough detail about your qualifications and experience . 

Additionally, it's important to focus on quality over quantity and make sure that each sentence is relevant and impactful to the overall message of your cover letter. On top of that, some employers may have specific guidelines for cover letter length. 

Guidelines on cover letter length

1 page or 300-500 words

One commonly accepted guideline is to keep your letter to one page, with a cover letter word count of approximately 300-500 words. This length allows you to provide enough information to highlight your skills and experience, while remaining on point.

Exceptions to the rule

How long is too long? Many people wonder if it's okay to have a two-page cover letter. There are some instances where you can exceed one page; however, they are few and very far between. If the job posting specifically requests a longer cover letter, you can consider writing a more detailed document that addresses the specific requirements of the position. In some fields, such as academia or research, a longer cover letter may be expected in order to provide a comprehensive overview of your experience and qualifications. But in normal circumstances, one page is plenty. 

Breaking down the cover letter

When determining the length of your cover letter, it can be helpful to think about the different sections of the document and how much space each one should take up. Breaking down a cover letter into its different sections and knowing what to include in each paragraph can help you to create a document that is well-organized, effective, and concise. 

What should a cover letter include, though? Here's a breakdown of what you could cover in each paragraph:

Paragraph 1: Introduction

The first paragraph of your cover letter should introduce you and explain why you're applying for the job. You can start with a sentence that grabs the reader's attention and makes it clear that you're excited about the opportunity. For example, you might say something like, "I am thrilled to apply for the [Position] at [Company Name], as I have a long-term interest in [field or industry]."

You should also summarise why you're a good fit for the position and why you're interested in working for the company. This is your chance to make a connection with the reader and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job. 

Paragraph 2: What you bring to the table

The second paragraph of your cover letter should provide more detail about your skills and experience and how they align with the requirements of the job. This is where you can explain what you bring to the table and how you can contribute to the company's success.

It's important to be specific and provide examples of your accomplishments , as well as any relevant education or training that you've completed. This is also a good place to mention any soft skills that are important for the position, such as communication, teamwork, or leadership abilities.

Paragraph 3: Career achievements and supporting information

The third paragraph of your cover letter can be formatted into bullet points, if you prefer. This is where you can demonstrate your expertise and show the reader that you have the skills and experience needed to excel in the position.

Be sure to tailor your examples to the requirements of the job posting and focus on achievements that are relevant to the company's goals and mission. This is also a good place to mention any relevant certifications, awards, or publications that you've earned.

Paragraph 4: Closing and call to action

The final paragraph of your cover letter should wrap up your document and provide a call to action. This is where you can thank the reader for considering your application and express your enthusiasm for the position once more.

You should also provide your contact information and encourage the reader to get in touch with you for further discussion or to schedule an interview. This is your chance to leave a lasting impression and show the reader that you're a qualified and keen candidate for the job.

Tips on crafting effective cover letters 

Crafting an effective cover letter within word count limits can be challenging, but it's always possible. Here are some tips that can help you to stay on track and make the most of the space you have:

Focus on the essentials: Be concise and avoid including irrelevant or redundant information

Use the active voice: This helps to convey confidence and clarity and makes your writing more engaging

Use bullet points: When appropriate, bullet points can help you to present information in a more efficient and visually appealing way

Customize your letter: Tailor your letter to the specific job and company you're applying to, highlighting the skills and experience that are most relevant to the position

Proofread: Make sure to carefully proofread your letter for errors, typos, and grammar mistakes; consider asking a friend or mentor to review your letter as well

Use a consistent format: Use a consistent format for your letter, with the same font and header that you used on your resume

Be confident and positive: Use confident, positive language to convey your enthusiasm for the position and your ability to excel in it

Example of a successful cover letter

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[Your Email Address]

[Today's Date]

[Company Name]

[Company Address]

Dear Mr Carlson, 

Having seen the job posting for a Project Manager, I would like to offer you adaptability, leadership skills, and a willingness to take initiative in this role. As someone who has demonstrated an ability to embrace change and lead others through it, I can also bring a wealth of knowledge surrounding project management to your team. I have earned recognition for bringing innovative and creative approaches to business and for embracing technical solutions. 

I am proud to have successfully transitioned from a QA role to a Project Manager with my current employer, in response to a sudden shift in the business structure. I demonstrated strong leadership by being one of the first employees to embrace the changes and execute the transition. I encouraged and inspired other QA team members to take on the challenge and shone a positive light on making the transition.

Please also consider the following qualities that I could bring to your team:

Emerging technologies: Business and tech changes at the speed of light, or so it seems sometimes. I am adept at keeping up with those changes and assimilating new ways of doing things. I bring fresh perspectives to processes and procedures and strongly feel that transformational change and adaptation are imperative to driving innovation. 

Leadership: I truly enjoy stewarding the career progression of others and have been trusted by management on several occasions to lead projects and to motivate teams to success.

Commitment to improvement: I proactively seek opportunities to expand my skills and knowledge through professional development activities. I'm also not afraid to take on new challenges and can make autonomous decisions despite ambiguity and tight deadlines.

While my resume does go into more detail and provides additional insights into my background, please feel free to contact me on [cell phone number] if you have any questions about my candidacy.  I look forward to discussing further how my professional goals are perfectly aligned with your organization's priorities.  

Thank you for your time and kind consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Remember, the goal of your cover letter is to get your foot in the door and secure an interview, so put in the effort to make it the best it can be. Good luck with your job search!

If you need help, TopResume writers are experts at crafting compelling cover letters that highlight skills, qualifications, and achievements. We'll not only make sure you have the perfect cover letter length, we'll write it in such a way that you won't fail to impress recruiters!

Recommended reading:

What to Say in a Cover Letter: 5 Things You Should Include

Career-Specific Cover Letter Samples & Examples

How to Start a Cover Letter That Grabs Attention  

Related Articles:

Do Hiring Managers Actually Read Cover Letters?

How to Create a Resume With No Education

Why You Lose When You Lie on Your Resume: Learning From Mina Chang

See how your resume stacks up.

Career Advice Newsletter

Our experts gather the best career & resume tips weekly. Delivered weekly, always free.

Thanks! Career advice is on its way.

Share this article:

Let's stay in touch.

Subscribe today to get job tips and career advice that will come in handy.

Your information is secure. Please read our privacy policy for more information.

The Future World of Work

How Long Should A Cover Letter Be? Can It Be Two Pages?

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

Last updated: April 25, 2024

Attaching a cover letter to your resume is the quickest way to draw the hiring manager’s attention. However, there has been a dispute over how long it should be. Some suggest keeping it short and simple, with only 3-4 sentences. Others pack their letters with as much detail as possible, which can stretch for pages.

How Long Should A Cover Letter Be

Where should yours fit into that spectrum? Let me share some of my tips regarding the ideal cover letter length, drawn from my own experiences as both a job seeker and a hiring manager.

In this article:

How long does a cover letter have to be .

Your cover letter should be concise and to the point, aiming for a length between half a page and a full page (translated roughly to 250-400 words ).

Less than half a page (250 words) might not provide enough information for the prospective employer to understand your qualifications and compatibility for the role. Worse, you might come across as uninspired or lacking genuine interest in the position .

A rambling letter (more than 400 words) is not a good idea, either. 

Example of a Cover Letter

We all know hiring managers and recruiters are busy people; your long letter might be skimmed or not read entirely, and the most important information will get buried in unnecessary details. The team not only misses out on all your key qualifications but also has a bad impression with the clear lack of focus in your writing style. 

Good news: there are still some exceptions. In some technical fields, your experience or qualifications might be complex and require more explanation. 

Hence, a slightly longer letter (up to 1.5 pages) could be justified if it provides crucial details relevant to the position. Ensure the extra content adds significant value, and be careful not to go longer than 2 pages; that would be excessive. 

How To Keep Your Effective Cover Letter In One Page

1. be concise with your cover letter introduction.

You should aim for 2 to 4 sentences with your opening. Start with a short yet powerful statement demonstrating your interest in the position; you can mention how you came across the opportunity or what excites you about the company.

Next, briefly mention a specific aspect of the job posting or the company that resonates with your relevant skills and experience level. If relevant, consider including a quantifiable achievement from your previous role that can back up this value proposition.

And that’s it. Now, conclude your opening and transition smoothly into the body of your letter. Do not let the introduction overstay its welcome. 

2. Cut Out What Your Resume Has Already Covered

A perfect cover letter and an amazing-looking resume are two parts of a powerful package, but they serve different purposes. The resume is a detailed list of your skills and experience level. Your cover letter, however, should focus on how those skills and experience benefit the potential employer .

Hence, do not just restate all your skills from your resume . The cover letter should connect the dots between your relevant experience (mentioned in your resume) and the specific job requirements you’re applying for. If there’s a stellar achievement mentioned in the resume that could be elaborated further with more details, do so in your cover letter. 

3. Cut Out The Fluff

A well-organized, concise cover letter should showcase your communication skills. Fluff only dilutes the impact of your message with unnecessary words or phrases and barely adds any value to your proposition.

Here are three simple yet powerful tips I have used for my own cover letters in earlier days: 

  • Never use unsubstantiated claims like “I’m a highly motivated individual with excellent skills.”
  • Replace phrases like “in order to” or “due to the fact that” with simpler alternatives like “to” or “because.”
  • Stay away from generic descriptive sentences of your skills. Instead, use specific examples to showcase them in action.

Let’s take a look at some cover letter examples:

Fluff: “I am a highly motivated individual with excellent communication and interpersonal skills during everyday tasks.”

Clearer: “My proven communication skills enabled me to…” (Demonstrates skill with an example)

Fluff: “In my previous role, I was responsible for managing social media campaigns and successfully increased brand awareness.”

Clearer: “ I spearheaded social media campaigns that increased brand awareness by 20%.” (Focuses on achievement with a quantifiable result)

3. No More Than One Adjective Or Adverb For Each Sentence

Adjectives and adverbs might add some nuance to your letter writing, but overuse makes your entire cover letter feel bloated and difficult to read. My advice is to rely less on them and gravitate more towards verbs and nouns: 

  • Use action verbs that showcase your skills and achievements in action. These verbs can convey meaning effectively on their own without additional adverbs.
  • Choose specific nouns that paint the whole picture and eliminate the need for descriptive adjectives.
  • Write in an active voice for clear and concise sentences. (e.g., “I increased sales by 15%” is stronger than “Sales were increased by 15%” ).

Some stellar cover letter templates:

Original: “I am a highly motivated and results-oriented individual with a strong work ethic.” (2 adverbs, 2 adjectives)

Revised: “I consistently achieve results through my dedication and strong work ethic.” (1 adverb, 1 adjective)

Original: “I successfully managed a team of ten very talented and creative designers in a fast-paced environment.” (3 adverbs, 2 adjectives)

Revised: “I led a ten-person design team and delivered creative projects on time despite the time pressure.” (1 adverb, 1 adjective)

4. Be Selective; No More Than Two Examples

Hiring managers prefer in-depth details about 1-2 impactful achievements than a long list of generic examples that lack depth.

You should carefully read the job description and identify the key skills and experiences they are looking for. Then, from your list of accomplishments on the resume, choose the ones that best demonstrate the skills highlighted in that description. 

Two golden strategies to keep in mind:

  • Choose examples from more recent positions that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for, as they showcase your current skills and knowledge.
  • Consider examples that demonstrate the scope and complexity of your work. The manager would be impressed with how you handled challenging tasks and contributed to the company’s vision.

Extra Tips For A Well-Written Cover Letter

Write A Cover Letter

Aligning your tone builds a bridge between you and the company culture and makes you seem like a great fit.

From my experience, a company website is your goldmine. The “About Us” section typically outlines the company’s mission, values, and what it stands for. It would help if you also looked for employee testimonials or “Company Culture” pages to get a closer look at the team dynamics . 

Social media is another option, especially popular platforms like Instagram or LinkedIn.

Most importantly, observe the writing style of the posts: 

  • Suppose the company culture leans formal; mirror that in your own writing. Use complete sentences with proper grammar and avoid slang or informal language.
  • For a more casual company culture, you can inject a bit more personality into your letter without losing professionalism. However, overly casual language is still out of the question.

Do You Need A Cover Letter If The Job Description Says It’s Not Required? 

In most cases, submitting a cover letter is still a good idea, even if the job description says it’s not required. 

A compelling cover letter can set you apart from the rest of the candidate pool (especially if many choose not to submit one), allowing you to showcase your communication skills and genuine interest in the job. 

Plus, as I said earlier, the paper cover letter acts like a bridge that connects the dots between your basic qualifications (mentioned in the resume) and the company’s needs.

You might also like: 7 Powerful Ways To Close A Cover Letter How To Start A Cover Letter Greeting? Who To Address Cover Letter To To Whom It May Concern Alternatives

Keep your professional cover letter to one page, maybe stretching to one and a half at most (the letter word count: 250 to over 400). Going over two pages might hurt your chances rather than increase them! Write to me if you need more advice on the contents of the cover letter.

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

Leave a Comment

Best Jobs For The Future

20 Best Jobs For The Future That Promise The Highest Pay

Job for introvers

24 Best Jobs For Introverts: What Careers Are Suitable?

Internship Interview Questions

30 Common Internship Interview Questions & Answers

Entry-Level Job

What Is An Entry-Level Job? Benefits & How To Find One

Internship Thank You Letter Samples

4 Internship Thank You Letter Samples

Business Analyst

What Does A Business Analyst Do? Responsibilities & Salary

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? Ideal Length and Elements

The ideal cover letter length should be between half a page and one page, which equates to 250–400 words spread over three to five paragraphs.

cover letter are generally page at most in length

‍ Thirty-six percent of hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds reading a cover letter. It’s a strong indicator that they’re not interested in long cover letters that don't quickly communicate the value you can bring to a role. 

But what do hiring managers have to say about this, and what can you do to optimize your cover letter? We’ll answer these questions, examine the key elements every cover letter should include, and take a look at tips to keep your cover letter short and sweet. Let’s get to it.

Do Hiring Managers Prefer Long or Short Cover Letters?

Seventy percent of surveyed recruiters prefer a shorter cover letter. The ideal cover letter length should be between half a page and one page, which equates to 250–400 words spread over three to five paragraphs. That means your cover letter needs to be concise. 

The goal of a cover letter is to provide more information on how your professional qualifications and experience make you a good fit for a specific role—so focus on emphasizing your value. 

Dr. Kyle Elliott , Founder and Tech Career Coach at Kyle Elliott Consulting advises the following practices when approaching a cover letter:

“Your cover letter doesn't need to summarize your resume, which is a common mistake many job seekers make. Rather, use it as an opportunity to highlight what sets you apart from the hundreds, or thousands, of people applying for the same role as you. Additionally, spend a sentence or two communicating what drew you to this specific company. Finally, include a clear call to action inviting the interviewer to meet with you to further discuss your candidacy.”

While it’s important to be mindful of length, that shouldn’t be your only focus. Use as many words as you need to communicate your value, without being wordy, repetitive, and going off course.  

Key Characteristics of a One-Page Cover Letter

Even though many recruiters skim cover letters, they’re still essential. As much as 65% of recruiters report that cover letters influence their decision on who to interview or hire. Plus, 81% said they value customized cover letters over generic ones. 

Your cover letter is your chance to set yourself apart, says Dr. Kylie Elliott : 

“While not all recruiters and hiring managers read cover letters, those who do choose to read them aren't looking for a mere summary of your resume. Instead, they want to learn more about you and what sets you apart from the other people who applied for the open position.” 

Here are some key features to prioritize to make sure you deliver a well-crafted cover letter.

First, as mentioned, your cover letter should be roughly half a page to a full page long and total 250–400 words. It should be divided into 3–5 paragraphs for easy scanning, and each paragraph should have a clear focus (we dive into the specifics of what to cover in each paragraph, below). 

You should also pay attention to your cover letter formatting. Messy formatting comes across as unprofessional and can hurt your application, say surveyed recruiters and hiring managers . Plus, formatting is key to making it through applicant tracking systems (ATS).  

  • Font: Choose standard fonts such as Calibri and Georgia that are easy to read and scan, with a font size between 10 and 12. 
  • Spacing and alignment: Your cover letter should have enough white space. It should also be aligned to the left with a standard 1-inch margin. This makes for a clean and uncluttered look. 
  • Format: For easy identification and assessment, name your document properly and send it in PDF format. Pay attention to any recruitment criteria on how to name and format your cover letter. 

Cover Letter Outline and Word Count 

No matter the length of your cover letter, there are certain elements it absolutely must include. 

We’ll take a look at each, and give our advice on optimizing each section—so you’re delivering maximum value while keeping your cover letter at the correct length. 

This is the first part of your cover letter and contains your contact details: such as your full name, email address, phone number, and link to a professional profile. It may also include the receiver’s details like the recruiter’s professional title, company name, and address. 

This should be approximately 20 words.

This is where you address the recruiter or hiring manager. If you don’t know their name, your greeting can reference their role, i.e. “Dear hiring manager.” Preferably, address them by their full name as this shows you’ve taken the time to do your research. 

Opening statement

This is where you introduce yourself and briefly outline why you’re the best fit for the role. You can also place a core achievement here to capture the recruiter or hiring manager’s attention. 

This section should be roughly 50 to 70 words. Focus on information that’s specifically relevant to the role and will make your application stand out. 

This is the crux of the cover letter where you sell yourself by stating relevant experience, skills, and qualifications that make you the best fit for the role. The body of the cover letter is usually two to three paragraphs. 

In the first paragraph, include information on achievements from past roles and outline how you can replicate these results for this new company. 

In the second paragraph, include some of your key skills and match these against those outlined in the job description. Note how you applied them in past endeavors. 

The third paragraph should contain information on your professional qualifications, courses taken, and more. 

The cover letter body should be about 150–200 words to keep within our guidelines for cover letter length . 

Closing paragraph

The closing paragraph is where you’ll tie up everything written so far. You should thank the recruiter for their time and include a call to action (CTA), like: “I look forward to hearing from you and am available to discuss my skillset at your earliest convenience.” This should be about 50 words. 

Complimentary close 

The complimentary close includes a formal closing statement, such as “Warm regards,” “Sincerely,” or “Best.” 

How to Keep Your Cover Letter the Correct Length 

Here are some cover letter tips to help you make a great impression and boost your chances of getting interviewed. 

Tip 1: Break it into sections

An ideal cover letter contains an opening statement, a body, and a closing paragraph. 

The first section should contain information about you and your professional background. The next section should focus on your skills, relevant experiences, and how you intend to use them in this new role. The last section contains your closing statement and CTA. 

By breaking your cover letter into logically arranged sections that have set parameters, you’ll avoid repeating information.

Tip 2: Follow professional formatting

The formatting of your cover letter also determines its length. First, embrace whitespace. Single or 1.5 spacing is ideal. 

You should pick an easy-to-read and legible font, like Arial or Georgia, with a font size between 10 and 12. It’s also best to outline your skills in an essay format, where you outline their relevance, rather than bullet points that rehash your resume. 

Using a cover letter template—like those offered by Rezi —will ensure you get these formatting essentials right every time. 

Tip 3: Highlight only relevant skills and experiences

This is the meat of the cover letter that most hiring managers look out for. So, while it may be tempting to list all your skills and work achievements, focus on relevant information that directly relates to the job you’re applying for.

Try the STAR method, which stands for situation, task, action, and result. This helps you state how you applied your skills in a situation when carrying out certain tasks, which in turn leads to the desired result. This will demonstrate the link between your skills and experiences and highlight how you’ll add value to the team.  

Tip 4: Remove fluff

Cut any unnecessary words that don’t add further meaning to what you’re saying. Removing fluff makes your cover letter more concise and easy to read. 

Tip 5: Proofread and edit 

Before you press send, ensure you edit your cover letter or ask someone to do this for you. This helps you identify and correct any grammatical errors, improve the flow of your sentences, and remove redundancies. 

Tip 6: Check the employer’s requirements 

Finally, check the job ad for information on how long the cover letter should be, as some recruiters specify the number of words they’re looking for. Ignoring that instruction will reflect badly on your application. 

In situations where no word count is specified, stay within 250–400 words. 

Example of a One-Page Cover Letter That’ll Impress Managers

Sales cover letter - one page

Here’s why you should adopt this cover letter template for your next job application: 

  • It’s concise and straight to the point. 
  • It communicates the applicant’s capabilities and core information and removes unnecessary details.
  • It follows the correct format, with enough white space and a font style and size that’s appropriate for an ATS.
  • It’s easily scannable with short paragraphs and core details presented first. 

Start Creating an Impressive Cover Letter with Rezi

A great cover letter considers both word count and the relevance of information. Don’t focus solely on how long the letter is, as this may force you to eliminate core details that make you stand out. 

The best way to approach writing your cover is by listing all the relevant information that showcases you as a great fit for a job, and then using a template to help you narrow your points down to the essentials. 

With the Rezi cover letter generator, you have myriad short cover letter samples to choose from—making your job application process that much easier. 

They are optimally formatted and can be tailored to the role and organization with just a few clicks. And you can tailor your application further by using our resume builder , and boost your chances of getting that dream job. 

Sign up to create your short cover letter.

1. Is a 500-word cover letter too long?

A 500-word cover letter may be too long if it includes unnecessary information that doesn’t highlight your value. However, this length is fine if it’s filled with core details that show the recruiter why you’re the best fit for the role. 

Generally, though, the rule of thumb is to write between half a page to one page, or around 250–400 words. 

2. Is it OK if my cover letter is two pages?

No matter how senior you are or how much work experience you have, a two-page cover letter is overboard. Most recruiters use cover letters as a supporting document when assessing your application, so they most likely won’t have the time and energy to read a two-page cover letter. 

Tech career coach Dr. Kyle Elliott has this to say:

“While a two-page cover letter may be needed in certain situations, such as when applying for an academic role or addressing specific questions requested by the prospective employer, a single-page cover letter will suffice in most cases.”

Also, the aim of your cover letter is not to rehash what’s already been stated in your resume but to emphasize key achievements that’ll make you stand out. You can do that in half a page to a full page.

Rezi is an ai resume builder to help you to create a resume that os sure to check the boxes when it comes to applicant tracking systems : Rezi Review by Ashley

Kels Styles

Kels is a career writer and editor with a background in entertainment, advertising, and startups. Kels aims to provide, reinforce, and organize authentic, digestible content that helps you take the next step in your career. 

  • Knowledge Base
  • Free Resume Templates
  • Resume Builder
  • Resume Examples
  • Free Resume Review

Click here to directly go to the complete cover letter sample.

How long should my cover letter be?

If you are a job seeker, you must have come across this question in your mind. But, what does length have to do with a cover letter?

Well, majorly everything. A very pressing question in the recruitment circles is: how long should a cover letter be for a job?

Quite literally, it asks, how far you should go in order to impress your employer?

So how long should cover letters be? The immediate answer is 1/2 of an A4 page.

Read on to find how and why this rule is applicable. Always customize it according to your target recruiter. In this blog, we will answer some of your questions:

How long should your cover letter be?

  • How to correctly make your cover letter length right?
  • How to structure a cover letter for optimum length?
  • What should be the cover letter font size?

How many words should a cover letter be of?

How long should a cover letter be.

Let's look at the length of the following example:

Senior Financial Analyst Cover Letter example

The length of the cover letter varies with what your cover letter needs to do.

Now a quick review of what your cover letter should do:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Reassure your knowledge about the company and the position
  • Demonstrate 2 - 3 examples of how your skills and experience match the recruiters' requirements
  • Share your enthusiasm for working for the company/institution
  • Imply an insight into your personality

And you need to do all of it in less than half a page!

Also Read: How to write a cover letter?

You shall be surprised to find that most cover letters are 2 pages in length. Professionally speaking, this is wrong. Most hiring managers do not read long cover letters.

The longer your cover letter, the lesser are your chances of getting shortlisted. Let's look at some examples of how should a cover letter look:

Customer Service Professional Cover Letter Example

How long are Cover Letters?

The 2019 edition of cover letter length saw a rapid elaboration and justification of one's skills and interests. This was followed by explanatory interviews and resulted in wasting a longer time before hiring the most relevant candidate.

The 2022 edition of cover letter length has been made concise and to the point. This allows recruiters to find the exact candidate they need for shortlisting more relevant candidates.

Trends suggest that the 2022 edition of cover letter length will not necessarily compromise on space but shall highly prioritize the simplicity of language and directness of impact.

This shall enable recruiters to:

  • spend lesser time before contacting the right applicant
  • apply quicker filters to find the necessary candidate
  • spend lesser time writing fluff and adding information
  • highlight key points you want the recruiters to see

How long does a cover letter have to be?

Your cover letter should be less than one page .

Only highlight:

  • your most relevant skills for the job
  • what you have to offer the employer
  • Awards/recognition across your career
  • certifications that prove your merit

In fact, a recent survey found out that, almost 70% of employers want a cover letter of less than 1 page, and about 25% responded that a shorter cover letter is better.

The usual preferences around the question - how long should a cover letters be:

Ensuring Readability - Cover Letter Length

Here are the few things to consider for the ideal cover letter length:

Cover Letter Formatting

The second most important thing after the length of cover letter is the format.

You must choose a legible font. Resume experts at Hiration suggests Calibri or Open Sans.

Ensure a readable font size of about 12 points.

Your margins should be about 1 inch all around, with the text left aligned or justified.

To ensure maximum readability, add spaces between:

  • salutation and text
  • text and signature
Also Read: Key Tips for writing a cover letter

Do not Waste Key Blank Space

This brings us the very next rule: do not waste the space you are supposed to cover with useless information.

  • over-explaining your contributions
  • apologizing for skills you don’t have
Examples of wasteful sentences are: “Despite my limited experience with marketing…”, etc.

How long does a cover letter need to be?

There is no specific word count you should aim for when writing a cover letter (unless the employer gives you a specific word count).

Instead of focusing on the number of words, focus on making your cover letter one page or less, with a readable font and font size, and enough white space between paragraphs and in the margins.

In order to get a second opinion on your cover letter before posting it or sending it somewhere, give a print out of it to your family member or friend and ask if it looks too cluttered.

Highlight the Right Experiences

Not sure what skills and experiences you should be featuring? Drop the text of the job description into a word cloud tool like Wordle, and see what stands out. The words with higher frequencies are what the recruiter is looking for.

Email Subject Line

When emailing your cover letter, it is even more important to be concise.

Most readers pay attention to the first paragraph when reading an email. Most will ignore the rest of the message. 2 paragraphs of which the first one consisting an introduction and second describing why you are eligible for the job is enough with a closing paragraph at the end.

You can also make your email cover letter stand out with a clear, concise email subject line.

Typically, you want to include the title of the position that you are applying for and your name. For example, Editorial Assistant - John Smith.

If possible, try to keep the meat of your subject line (specifically, the job title and your name) under 30 characters . This is about as much as people can see on their mobile devices, which is often how people check their email.

How to make cover letter length right

To understand how long can a cover letter be, imagine you need to buy a car.

Do you ever read the long literature or spend hours listening to a salesman describe the functionalities of a particular car?

You only listen to the necessary specifications matching your needs.

The same goes for a cover letter. Check out the following length of a cover letter example:

Collection Manager Credit Analyst Expert Cover Letter Example

This example shows how long a cover letter first paragraph should be, and why.

Here's another:

Product Life Cycle management Leader Cover Letter Example

Structuring your Cover Letter

First, enter your name as the largest text. Then enter your contact information:

  • Phone number
  • Email Address

After the header, start your actual cover letter.

Let us break the above example into the following steps to understand exactly how to optimize the paragraphs to make it most effective.

Also Read: How to start a cover letter?

Cover Letter Length: Salutation

The following example portrays how to write the salutation in your cover letter.

Dan Wilkins HR Manager Bro Code Limited

Cover Letter Length: 1st paragraph

Let's look at the corresponding example:

CCP & TTL1 Certified Collection Manager & Credit Analyst with a prolific 16-year track record of overseeing collection management and credit control for Fortune 500 companies. Adept at conceptualizing and implementing initiatives to drive continuous process improvement within the control and compliance framework to achieve operational excellence, I am extremely interested in the profile of Collection Manager & Credit Analysis Expert at Bro Code.

How long is a cover letter first paragraph?

It has all the elements of the first paragraph of an ideally long cover letter:

  • It starts with the certificate name
  • It displays your profile title(s)
  • It shows your years of experience
  • It substantiates your most pressing contributions
  • It then exemplifies why you are such a great fit for your target position

It's 2 sentences long with 64 words.

There is no generic element in it. It displays your genuine interest and proposes why you think you are the best candidate for the job.

And it is based on your experience. That's how you write a job-winning cover letter.

Cover Letter Length: 2nd paragraph

In my present tenure as the Assistant Manager at Accenture, I have been independently managing 11 accounts while incubating and managing a team of 15 to supervise collections from Expedia on behalf of Marriott. As the Lead at IBM UK across London, Manchester & Liverpool, I spearheaded the Cash & Collections Application team to steer process development and deliver stellar levels of customer service. In my previous role as the Process Developer at Miss Effective, I effectively executed the Green Belt project (US/London) while steering process migration for USA Business Credit Services.

How long is a cover letter second paragraph?

The second paragraph of the cover letter is slightly longer, about 93 words long.

It does not pound its chest and claims "I'm the best". Instead, it simply showcases the right numbers. Again, not a generic cover letter.

But, how do you do it?

First, read the job description very carefully. Secondly, go down memory lane and brainstorm about the times you delivered what the target job is exactly looking for.

Cover Letter Length: 3rd paragraph

I was declared a recipient of the Top Collector Award & Maintenance Award while demonstrating the capability to achieve 99% accuracy and productively managing a portfolio of USD 1.5 M per month.

How long is a cover letter third paragraph?

The hiring manager should have not stopped skimming and started reading your cover letter.

Here's why it worked:

  • It did not just say, "I like the company."
  • It proved the same, based on numbers
  • It showed your exact skills

Read their mission statement and "about us" page. Read news articles about them. Find out their philosophy on training and staff development.

In short, state the reasons why that particular organization is the dream company for you.

Cover Letter Length: 4th/5th paragraph

Let's look at the following example:

It is difficult to come away un-awed by the passion for excellence that Bro Code has displayed in its meteoric rise to become a stalwart in this domain. Despite a presence in 9 countries, it values its employees & ensures a continuous learning environment. Hence, I consider Bro Code to be my most preferred employer. Enclosed for your consideration is my resume. I’d appreciate the opportunity to further discuss my suitability and qualifications with you on call or in person.

How long is a cover letter fourth paragraph?

The fourth paragraph always entertains the nature of the organization and your reason for wanting to attend to the same. You should:

  • Read about the company before writing the concluding paragraph
  • Show eagerness for the company and the recruiter

Cover Letter Length: Signature

Always end on a sincere note as does the following example.

Sincerely, Sussane Stephens Enclosure: Resume

Ensure a sustainable gap between the text and the signature.

Still not clear about how long should a cover letter be? You may read our guide on the same.

The following is a concise guide for the same thing.

Cover Letter Infographic

Academic Cover Letter Length

An academic cover letter could run up to 2 pages.

The question - how long should a cover letter be for an academic position - enables us to rethink the scope of an academic cover letter length.

Basically, it incorporates evidence, enthusiasm, and rationale.

On a larger scale, the academic cover letter covers highlights the following:

  • Current Position
  • Research Interests/Affiliations
  • Scholarly Publications
  • Selected Awards & Honors
  • Conference Presentations/Papers
  • Invited Talks
  • Additional Publications
  • Teaching Experiences

Further, if asked, it may also encompass a "Statement Of Purpose". The SOP relates to the readers the motivation/inspiration of the candidate behind opting for the particular position he/she is seeking.

This may easily run from 750 - 1000 words.

Also Read: How to write a cover letter enclosure?

Cover Letter FAQs

How long does a cover letter need to be? Here are the common questions.

Should a cover letter be of 2 pages?

No, a cover letter should not be of 2 pages.

A cover letter that is of 2 pages violates both the definition and the parameters - a short summary of why you're the best bet for the job.

In fact, a resume can extend to 2 pages only if you possess 10+ years of experience.

Should a cover letter be of 1 page?

The best cover letter length is less than 1 page. Smart and short cover letters allow a detailed eye-time with the manager.

In fact, a long cover letter often sends the message that you are unsure about your capabilities.

Is my cover letter too lengthy?

If your cover letter is of 1 full page or longer, then it will be considered lengthy.

A 2 - 3 page length of cover letter is a waste of paper.

A cover letter consists of 3 paragraphs explaining why you're the perfect candidate for the profile you're applying for.

What should be the font size for my cover letter?

The font you use for your cover letter should be of the same font size as that of your resume.

This said, the ideal font size for both is 12 pts.

Cover letter should be 250 - 300 words long.

This is because that's the number of words that take up a little more space than half a page with 12-pt. size.

How long should a digital cover letter be?

The length of a digital cover letter should be the same as that of a paper cover letter. Mainly

  • <1 full page
  • 250-300 words
  • 3 paragraphs

The difference in an electronic cover letter would be in the address section in the starting and the subject line.

Should there be double spacing in a cover letter?

There should not be double space in a cover letter.

The line spacing of your cover letter should effectively be between 1 - 1.5.

Also, after ending each paragraph, give space of one blank line to clearly distinguish between the paragraphs.

How long should a cover letter be for an internship?

Your resume for cover should not be more than 1 page, and ideally withing 400-500 words.

The basic principle of a cover letter for an internship and a cover letter for a job is the same. The only differene is that, in internship cover letter, you need to focus more on your academics and extracarricular activities.

What length should an academic cover letter be?

Usually, an academic cover letter is called an SOP or a "Statement Of Purpose".

This can be 2 pages long - which is enough to demonstrate your:

  • research work
  • accomplishments
  • relevant accolades
  • departmental service

In general, an academic cover letter length is usually 1.5 - 2 pages long. This is about 5 - 8 paragraphs.

Does the length of a cover letter matter?

The right length of a cover letter signifies that you are able to justify your profile and highlight the most relevant experiences.

The number of interviews that you'll get very much depends on the length of your cover letter. So the question now is, how to make the cover letter of the right length?

How long does it take to write a Cover Letter?

Well, you should ideally spend 30 minutes writing a cover letter and 10 minutes proofreading it.

The examples on the page shall help you answer how long should a cover letter be.

Follow the ideal cover letter length for the most number of responses from your hiring manager.

You may also get it reviewed by industry-specific professionals at Hiration.

Key Takeaways

Here are the most important points to practice while reducing your cover letter length:

  • Limit your cover letter to half a page
  • Structure your cover letter in 3 paragraphs
  • Research about the company to ensure that the cover letter is tailored to the job listing
  • Sell Yourself Subtly
  • Be Concise to ensure that the recruiter is presented with a quick snapshot of your achievements
  • Customize the cover letter as per the profile you're targeting
  • Proofread to make sure there are no errors and mistakes
  • Limit your contact information to Phone number, Email Address & location

Go to Hiration career platform which has 24/7 chat support and get professional assistance with all your job & career-related queries. You can also write to us at [email protected] and we will make sure to reach out to you as soon as possible.

cover letter are generally page at most in length

Share this blog

Subscribe to Free Resume Writing Blog by Hiration

Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox

Stay up to date! Get all the latest & greatest posts delivered straight to your inbox

Is Your Resume ATS Friendly To Get Shortlisted?

Upload your resume for a free expert review.

cover letter are generally page at most in length

How long should a cover letter be?

A cover letter is your opportunity to go beyond your resume and show how your skills, experience, and personal traits make you the ideal candidate for the job you’re applying for. Jobseeker offers guidance to help you decode employer preferences and guidelines so you can ensure that you get the length and content just right.

General cover letter guidelines

The length of a cover letter can vary by role and industry. For example, if a job description criteria or your lengthy list of experience and accomplishments warrant it, your cover letter may stretch to two pages.

However, as a general rule, you should aim to keep your cover letter to one page. This means your document should be concise and contain no more information than is necessary to meet company requirements and convey how your skills and experience make you a great fit.

One way to achieve a concise cover letter structure is to avoid rambling about yourself or what you’ve done. Instead, show a hiring manager your true value and impact by quantifying your accomplishments with numbers and figures. This can be as simple as stating the number of sales you’ve closed or how many customers you serve daily.

What do recruiters and employers prefer?

Knowing what recruiters and employers prefer when it comes to cover letter length is critical to making a good impression.

While cover letter articles can provide some general guidelines, it’s important to read the job posting thoroughly and note any employer-specific requirements for the cover letter, such as including testimonials or recommendations.

Doing this will help you choose the right cover letter length. It also has the added benefit of helping you articulate exactly how your skills and experience align with what the hiring manager is looking for.

It’s also a good idea to research the company to see if you can pick up on any specific preferences regarding cover letter length. For example, if you know any professional forums where current or former employees post, search for threads that mention what the company expects in an application package. 

You can also research the company’s values to see if they hint at an ideal cover letter length. For example, an employer that prioritizes efficiency may not appreciate a lengthy cover letter.

If you’re unable to obtain clear guidelines using these methods, you can always call or email the hiring manager or recruiter and ask for clarification. This is always a better option than just guessing about the ideal cover letter length.

Expert Tip:

If you have any LinkedIn connections who are current or former employees at the company, reach out to them and ask how long their cover letters were. Their applications have already landed them a position, so it may be wise to mimic what they did to achieve success.

Differentiate your cover letter from your resume

Word count is not the only important aspect of a good cover letter. You must also make it a point to include relevant and useful content in all your application materials.

In order to do that, it’s critical that you differentiate your cover letter from your resume . Rather than simply rehashing what you’ve told the hiring manager about yourself in your resume, you should use your cover letter to talk about how your past job history has prepared you for the role you’re applying for. 

You’ll also want to answer any questions a potential employer may have. This might include explaining why there’s a gap in your employment or why you want to make a career switch.

At the same time, you want to avoid making the mistake of only discussing how much you want the position and ensure that you make it clear how your skills and experience can provide value for the company.

The idea is to convey to the hiring manager what you bring to the table and how it will take the business to the next level. What impact will you have on the company if you’re hired? This is the question your cover letter should ultimately answer.

" Your document should be concise and contain no more information than is necessary to meet company requirements and convey how your skills and experience make you a great fit."

Always tailor your cover letter

One of the most important cover letter tips is to tailor your letter for the specific job you’re applying for.

Doing so will make it easier to adhere to all length guidelines and content requests in the job description. It also shows consideration for the hiring manager by signaling that you read the job posting thoroughly and cared enough to follow the directions it provided.

Moreover, tailoring your cover letter templates also helps you avoid redundancy. When you submit the same cover letter for every job, you don’t get the chance to list the reasons you would be a great fit for a particular company. As a result, you may come across as unenthusiastic or disinterested in the position.

It’s much more impactful to write about specific accomplishments and traits that relate to the job posting than it is to speak about yourself in a generalized way.

Finally, a customized cover letter better supports your resume, provided you’ve also tailored it for the position. You can take the opportunity to make critical connections for the hiring manager, addressing how your qualifications are a good match for the job description.

Make your letter visually striking

When it comes to making your cover letter stand out, don’t forget the visual aspect. Many people submit cover letters and resumes that are little more than words on a page. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

You can make your cover letter visually interesting by choosing a well-designed template. If you decide to go this route, make sure the templates you use match the resume examples you went with. Even if you don’t use the exact same design, they should complement each other.

Matching your cover letter to your resume goes a long way toward capturing the attention of hiring managers and recruiters, as most people won’t put in the extra effort to do this.

As a bonus, choosing the right cover letter design and template will make your document easier to read. This is because your letter won’t appear as one big wall of text, which can cause the reader’s attention to waver.

Proofread and edit

Always read through your cover letter carefully before sharing or submitting it to catch potential typos, errors, or awkward constructions.

If you used any cover letter or resume templates , make sure you’ve customized all sections with your personal information. By doing so, you’ll come across as polished and avoid looking like you don’t care about professionalism.

If you have trouble editing your own work, consider asking a friend to read through your letter and note any errors or issues that jump out at them. They can also provide a fresh perspective on the length and tone of your letter to ensure that you’re portraying the image you want a potential employer to see.

The right cover letter length is essential for job-hunting success

How long should a cover letter be? The answer is as long as it takes to meet job description requirements, employer preferences, and professional norms. Sometimes, you might need two pages to check all these boxes. In most cases, however, you should limit it to one page.

Don't forget about your content while trying to find the right length. Make sure what you write is relevant to the specific job you’re applying for. Quantifying your achievements, proofreading prior to submission, and adding visual elements will also ensure that you come across as poised and impactful.

If you need help writing a great cover letter, consider using a template. Solid cover letter examples can help point you in the right direction regarding the ideal length. They’ll also give you a starting point from which you can craft a professional letter that will garner the right kind of attention from potential employers and recruiters.

Get ahead of the competition

Make your job applications stand-out from other candidates.

Creating a Europass Cover Letter

Creating a Europass Cover Letter

How to Nail Your Cover Letter Call to Action

How to Nail Your Cover Letter Call to Action

Writing a Cover Letter for Internal Positions

Writing a Cover Letter for Internal Positions

  • Starting a Business
  • Growing a Business
  • Small Business Guide
  • Business News
  • Science & Technology
  • Money & Finance
  • For Subscribers
  • Write for Entrepreneur
  • Tips White Papers
  • Entrepreneur Store
  • United States
  • Asia Pacific
  • Middle East
  • South Africa

Copyright © 2024 Entrepreneur Media, LLC All rights reserved. Entrepreneur® and its related marks are registered trademarks of Entrepreneur Media LLC

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be in 2023? This article explores the ideal cover letter length and provides tips for creating an engaging, easy-to-read document for your next interview.

By Entrepreneur Staff May 2, 2023

Crafting a well-written cover letter is pivotal to securing a dream job, as it offers an opportunity to make a lasting first impression on hiring managers and recruiters.

Yet, in the quest for professional success, job seekers frequently ponder, "How long should a cover letter be?" In 2023, the answer may be different than previously thought.

How to determine the ideal cover letter length

When crafting a cover letter, it is essential to balance providing sufficient information and maintaining the reader's interest.

The following factors contribute to determining the ideal length for a cover letter:

  • Industry standards and expectations: Different industries may have varying expectations regarding cover letter length. Research the norms within the target industry to ensure the cover letter adheres to accepted standards.
  • Clarity and conciseness: A well-written cover letter should be clear and concise, effectively conveying the applicant's suitability for the role without overwhelming the reader with excessive detail. Aim to present the most relevant information that is easy to digest.
  • Word count and formatting: While there is no one-size-fits-all rule for cover letter length, a general guideline is to keep it between half a page and one full page. This range typically equates to approximately 250 to 400 words. In addition, use formatting tools such as bullet points, headings and white space to break up large blocks of text and enhance readability.

By considering these factors, job seekers can craft a cover letter that effectively communicates their qualifications while maintaining an appropriate length.

What are some examples of recommended cover letter lengths across different industries?

While providing specific numbers on expected cover letter length across various significant industries is difficult, we can offer some general guidelines as many factors can influence the expectations. Usually, a one-page cover letter is considered standard across various industries.

However, specific fields may have unique expectations. Below are some examples:

  • Finance and Business: A one-page cover letter is typically preferred in the finance and business sectors. According to Robert Half, a leading recruitment agency , a concise and well-structured cover letter is essential for these industries.
  • Academia and Research: A longer cover letter of 1-2 pages may be expected in academic and research positions, as candidates often need to detail their research, publications and teaching experience. The University of California, Berkeley provides guidelines for academic cover letters, suggesting a length of 1-2 pages.
  • Creative Industries (e.g., Graphic Design, Advertising): In creative industries, the focus is often on the quality and originality of work rather than the length of the cover letter. A shorter, more visually engaging cover letter of around one page or less might be expected. AIGA, the professional association for design, provides insights into crafting a creative cover letter.

Ultimately, it's crucial to research the specific industry and company you're applying to tailor your cover letter to their expectations.

How do you properly research the industry norms for cover letter length?

To find reliable information about recommended cover letter length for specific industries and positions, consider the following resources:

  • Industry Associations and Professional Organizations: Many industries have professional associations that provide valuable resources and guidelines for job seekers, including cover letter advice. Examples include the American Marketing Association (AMA), the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
  • University Career Centers: Many universities offer comprehensive resources and advice for crafting cover letters, often tailored to specific industries or fields. Examples include Harvard University's Office of Career Services and the University of California, Berkeley's Career Center .
  • Online Job Search Platforms: Websites like LinkedIn , Indeed and Glassdoor often provide job search tips, including guidance on crafting effective cover letters. Some platforms even offer industry-specific advice, giving you insights into the expectations of employers in your target field.
  • Recruitment Agencies and Career Coaches: Professional recruitment agencies and career coaches often provide advice and resources on their websites or blogs. Examples include Robert The Muse and Workopolis .
  • Networking: Contact professionals within your target industry for advice and insights. They may be able to share their experiences and recommendations regarding cover letter expectations for their field. Utilize platforms like LinkedIn to connect with people in your industry and engage in relevant discussions.

While these resources can offer valuable guidance, tailoring your cover letter to the specific company and position you are applying for is essential. When crafting your cover letter, always research the organization's culture and values.

Which is better: Full-page or half-page cover letters?

Some hiring managers and recruiters may prefer a full-page cover letter, while others appreciate the brevity of a half-page document. To determine the appropriate length for a specific application, consider the industry norms, the complexity of the role and the amount of relevant information to be included.

For example, if applying for a senior management position in a highly technical field, a full-page cover letter might be necessary to convey the depth of experience and expertise. Conversely, a concise half-page cover letter highlighting key skills and accomplishments may be more suitable for an entry-level position in the creative industry.

What are the specific word count and page count recommendations?

While there is no universal rule for cover letter length, a general guideline is to keep it between half a page and one full page, which typically equates to approximately 250-400 words.

However, it is essential to prioritize the quality of the content over strictly adhering to a specific word count.

For instance, a well-crafted 350-word cover letter that effectively demonstrates the applicant's fit for the role and addresses key requirements from the job description will likely be more impactful than a 250-word cover letter that fails to provide sufficient detail or context.

What factors can influence the length of your cover letter?

Various factors can influence the ideal length of a cover letter, including the job seeker's experience, the job requirements and the company's expectations. Consider these elements when crafting the cover letter and adjust the length accordingly.

For example, if a job posting emphasizes the need for a highly experienced candidate with a wide range of skills, a longer cover letter may be appropriate to showcase the breadth of relevant qualifications.

On the other hand, if a company is known for its fast-paced, results-oriented culture, a concise and focused cover letter that quickly highlights the most relevant skills and achievements might be more appealing to the hiring manager.

Why is concise, engaging writing best for cover letters?

Concise and engaging writing can significantly impact hiring managers and recruiters, demonstrating an applicant's ability to communicate effectively and respect the reader's time.

In addition, by presenting the most relevant information clearly and concisely, job seekers can create a lasting impression and increase their chances of success.

Related: These Resume and Cover Letter Templates Can Help Your Job Hunt

What are the core objectives of a cover letter?

As the perfect cover letter takes shape, it is essential to understand its underlying purpose. This understanding will provide a solid foundation for the writing process and facilitate crafting a document that effectively serves its intended function.

Connecting job seekers and hiring managers

One of the primary purposes of a cover letter is to act as a bridge between job seekers and hiring managers.

It allows candidates to present themselves in a way that goes beyond the confines of a resume by:

  • Showcasing personality and communication skills.
  • Demonstrating passion and motivation for the position.
  • Providing context for career transitions or gaps in employment.

By doing so, job seekers can create a more comprehensive and compelling narrative, which helps hiring managers better understand the applicant's fit for the position.

Showcasing relevant experience and work history

A cover letter serves as an opportunity to highlight and expand on relevant experience, skills and accomplishments.

By carefully selecting and emphasizing the most pertinent aspects of their work history, job seekers can demonstrate to hiring managers how they have effectively applied their abilities in previous roles and plan to contribute to the prospective organization.

Tailors your experience to the role

A well-crafted cover letter should never be a one-size-fits-all document. Instead, it must be tailored to the specific job description and company culture. This customization demonstrates a genuine interest in the position and showcases an applicant's understanding of the company's needs and values.

In addition, by aligning the cover letter's content with the job description, job seekers can effectively illustrate how their unique skillset and experience make them the ideal candidate for the role.

Related: The 6 Musts of a Cover Letter

What are the critical components of an effective cover letter?

When creating a cover letter, it is crucial to include specific elements that convey professionalism and suitability for the role. The following sections highlight the vital components of a compelling cover letter and guide how to present them.

Contact information and salutation

Begin the cover letter by including contact information, such as name, address, phone number and email address. This information should be displayed at the top of the document. Next, address the hiring manager or recruiter by name, if possible.

Researching the recipient's name demonstrates initiative and a genuine interest in the position. If the name is unavailable, opt for a general yet professional greeting, such as "Dear Hiring Manager."

Engaging body paragraphs

An effective cover letter should consist of well-structured paragraphs that flow seamlessly, each serving a specific purpose:

  • First paragraph: Capture the reader's attention by mentioning the job posting and expressing enthusiasm for the role. Briefly introduce relevant qualifications or experiences that make the candidate a strong fit.
  • Second paragraph: Delve deeper into the applicant's background by highlighting specific accomplishments and relevant experiences. Draw connections between these achievements and the job description, illustrating how the candidate's skillset aligns with the company's requirements.
  • Third paragraph: Showcase the applicant's understanding of the company's goals and values. Explain how their experiences and skills will contribute to the organization's success, further solidifying their suitability for the role.

Related: How to Write an Amazing Cover Letter

What are some common mistakes to avoid when writing a cover letter?

It is essential to avoid some common pitfalls to maximize the effectiveness of a cover letter. These mistakes can undermine the applicant's credibility and hinder their chances of success.

Generic writing

Using a generic cover letter for multiple job applications is a critical error. Instead, take the time to customize each cover letter to the specific job description and company culture, demonstrating genuine interest and understanding of the company's needs.

Neglecting to research the company

Failing to research the company website and the manager's name can signal a lack of initiative and genuine interest in the role. Make an effort to gather and incorporate this information into the cover letter to create a more personalized and compelling narrative.

Underestimating the importance of your resume

A well-crafted cover letter should complement and enhance the information presented in the resume. Neglecting either document can weaken the overall application.

Instead, take the time to create a cohesive and comprehensive narrative that effectively showcases qualifications, experience and fit for the role.

Related: How to Write a Cover Letter That Gets You an Interview

The power of writing an excellent cover letter

Crafting an effective cover letter is vital to the job application process.

By understanding its purpose, incorporating key components and determining the ideal length, job seekers can create a compelling and professional document that captures the attention of hiring managers and recruiters.

Moreover, avoiding common mistakes and ensuring the cover letter complements the resume will further increase the chances of success in securing the desired position.

Consider exploring Entrepreneur's comprehensive articles to enhance your knowledge and skills in cover letter writing and other essential aspects of career development.

Entrepreneur Staff

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick Red Arrow

  • Lock The Average American Can't Afford a House in 99% of the U.S. — Here's a State-By-State Breakdown of the Mortgage Rates That Tip the Scale
  • Richard Branson Shares His Extremely Active Morning Routine : 'I've Got to Look After Myself'
  • Lock This Flexible, AI-Powered Side Hustle Lets a Dad of Four Make $32 an Hour , Plus Tips: 'You Can Make a Substantial Amount of Money'
  • Tennis Champion Coco Gauff Reveals the Daily Habits That Help Her Win On and Off the Court — Plus a 'No Brainer' Business Move
  • Lock 3 Essential Skills I Learned By Growing My Business From the Ground Up
  • 50 Cent Once Sued Taco Bell for $4 Million. Here's How the Fast-Food Giant Got on the Rapper's Bad Side .

Most Popular Red Arrow

One of america's oldest companies just laid off 600 workers as it shifts focus to production in mexico.

Over 600 John Deere employees in Iowa and Illinois were laid off effective August 30.

Here's How Much Investing $10,000 in Nvidia When It Went Public Would Be Worth Now

Nvidia was founded in 1993 and went public in January 1999, first trading at $12 per share.

How Entrepreneurs Can Apply the 7 Laws of Success to Their Business and Personal Life

Most folks have a hard line between work and life. "It's just business," "I am a different person at work," etc. But what if we brought some of the beauty of the personal into the professional?

How to Text Customers Without Getting Sued — Your SMS Marketing Compliance Guide

SMS marketing is a growing channel, but you've got to stay compliant with regulations. Here's what to know and do.

The Best Funding Resources for Entrepreneurs With Disabilities

There are numerous options to assist those in need.

"It Was Horrifying and Scary": Bar Rescue's Jon Taffer Describes the First Time He Screamed at Someone on Camera

Here's why Jon Taffer first started yelling on TV — and what it can teach every new manager.

Successfully copied link

cover letter are generally page at most in length

Can a Cover Letter Be Longer Than a Page? [3 Examples]

Imagine you're applying for your dream job, and the application requests a cover letter. You have a wealth of experience and skills to share, but you've heard that cover letters should only be one page. Should you stick to this rule, or can a cover letter be longer than one page? Understanding when and how to write a longer cover letter can help job seekers make a stronger impression on potential employers.

In this article, we will explore the debate surrounding cover letter length, the importance of considering industry norms and specific job requirements, and the consequences of an overly long or poorly written cover letter. We will also delve into tips, tricks, and best practices for writing a compelling longer cover letter that will help you stand out in a competitive job market. Let's begin!

Why One Page is the Standard

One-page cover letters are preferred because they are concise, focused, and respect the hiring manager's time. Research indicates that hiring managers have limited time and attention spans, making it crucial for candidates to get to the point quickly and effectively. According to a Forbes article , clear and concise communication is essential for success in any professional environment.

By keeping a cover letter to one page, candidates can ensure that their key points stand out and that they demonstrate respect for the reader's time. A longer cover letter runs the risk of losing the reader's interest and diluting the impact of the candidate's most important qualifications.

When a Longer Cover Letter may be Acceptable

There are certain situations where a longer cover letter might be warranted, depending on the job requirements and the candidate's qualifications. Some possible scenarios include:

  • Highly specialized or technical roles : Candidates applying for positions that require specific expertise may need more space to explain their qualifications and experiences.
  • Extensive relevant experience : If a candidate has a long and impressive history of relevant accomplishments, they may need more than one page to adequately showcase their achievements.
  • Multiple accomplishments to showcase : Similar to those with extensive experience, candidates with numerous accomplishments that are directly related to the job may require additional space to demonstrate their value.
  • Addressing specific job requirements in detail : If the job description asks for detailed explanations of certain qualifications or experiences, a longer cover letter may be necessary to address these requirements thoroughly.
  • Tailoring the cover letter to the employer's preferences : In some cases, the employer may request a more comprehensive cover letter, making it appropriate to exceed the one-page standard.

How to Decide if a Longer Cover Letter is Warranted

Before deciding to write a longer cover letter, job seekers should carefully assess their qualifications and the job requirements. This process may include:

  • Analyzing the job description : Determine which qualifications and experiences are most important to the employer and consider how your background aligns with these requirements.
  • Identifying key qualifications and accomplishments : Make a list of your most significant achievements and qualifications that are relevant to the job, and decide which ones are essential to include in your cover letter.
  • Weighing the relevance of each point : Consider how important each qualification or accomplishment is to the job at hand, and whether it is worth extending your cover letter to include it.
  • Considering the employer's preferences : If the employer has provided specific instructions or preferences regarding cover letter length, be sure to take these into account when deciding whether to go beyond one page.
  • Balancing the need for detail with the risk of losing the reader's interest : Ultimately, you will need to weigh the benefits of providing additional detail against the potential drawbacks of a longer cover letter, such as losing the reader's interest or appearing unfocused.

Real-Life Examples of Successful Longer Cover Letters

Some job seekers have successfully used longer cover letters to stand out and secure interviews, but their success often depends on the quality of the content. Here are three real-life examples:

  • Example 1: A candidate for a highly specialized role : This candidate was applying for a position that required in-depth knowledge of a specific technology. In their two-page cover letter, they provided a detailed explanation of their experience with this technology, including the projects they had worked on and the results they achieved. This level of detail demonstrated their expertise and helped them stand out from other applicants.
"In my previous role as a Senior Software Engineer at XYZ Company, I led the development of a cutting-edge machine learning algorithm that improved the efficiency of our data processing pipeline by 35%. This project required a deep understanding of the underlying technology, as well as the ability to coordinate with cross-functional teams and manage tight deadlines. My success in this project showcases my ability to excel in the specialized role for which I am applying, and I am confident that my unique skill set will make me a valuable asset to your organization."
  • Example 2: A candidate with extensive experience and accomplishments : This candidate had a long and impressive career in their industry, with many relevant accomplishments that made them a strong fit for the position. In their two-page cover letter, they highlighted their most significant achievements, along with the skills and expertise they had developed over the years.
"Over the past 15 years, I have held various leadership roles within the marketing industry, consistently driving growth and innovation for the organizations I have served. I spearheaded a successful rebranding campaign for a major consumer goods company, which resulted in a 20% increase in sales and a 15% increase in brand recognition. Additionally, I played a pivotal role in the development and execution of a multi-channel marketing strategy that led to a 25% increase in customer engagement for a leading eCommerce retailer. These accomplishments, along with my extensive experience in the field, make me a strong candidate for the Director of Marketing position at your organization."
  • Example 3: A candidate who addressed specific job requirements in detail : The job description for this position required candidates to explain in detail how they met certain qualifications. The candidate used their two-page cover letter to address these requirements, providing specific examples and explanations to demonstrate their fit for the role.
"As requested in the job description, I would like to provide detailed information on my experience with project management and team leadership. In my most recent role as a Project Manager at ABC Company, I successfully managed a team of 12 professionals to complete a complex software development project on time and within budget. I was responsible for overseeing all aspects of the project, including setting timelines, allocating resources, and ensuring effective communication among team members. Throughout the project, I consistently demonstrated my ability to manage competing priorities and deliver results under pressure. I am confident that my track record of success in this area makes me a strong candidate for the position at your organization."

The importance of high-quality content in longer cover letters cannot be overstated. In each of these examples, the candidates provided relevant, detailed information that showcased their qualifications and made them stand out from other applicants. When considering whether to write a longer cover letter, remember that the success of these examples was largely due to the quality and relevance of their content.

Following Instructions in the Job Description

It's crucial for job seekers to follow any instructions related to cover letter length provided in the job description. Adhering to employer preferences demonstrates attention to detail and a willingness to customize your application for each position. According to a ResumeEdge article , some companies use Applicant Tracking Software to exclude unsuitable cover letters and resumes before they reach hiring managers and recruiters.

Ignoring the employer's instructions can have negative consequences, such as being disqualified from the selection process or giving the impression that you're not a good fit for the company culture. By customizing your cover letter for each application and following any specific instructions provided, you show the employer that you're a serious candidate who is willing to go the extra mile to meet their expectations.

While the one-page cover letter is the standard, there are situations where a longer cover letter might be acceptable, provided that it is well-written and relevant to the job requirements. When deciding whether to write a longer cover letter, carefully assess the job requirements and your qualifications, and consider the importance of high-quality content in making your case.

In all cases, it's essential to follow any instructions provided in the job description regarding cover letter length to demonstrate your attention to detail and commitment to meeting the employer's expectations. By creating a tailored and effective cover letter that addresses the specific needs of the position, you increase your chances of standing out from the competition and securing that coveted interview.

  • Environment
  • Science & Technology
  • Business & Industry
  • Health & Public Welfare
  • Topics (CFR Indexing Terms)
  • Public Inspection
  • Presidential Documents
  • Document Search
  • Advanced Document Search
  • Public Inspection Search
  • Reader Aids Home
  • Office of the Federal Register Announcements
  • Using FederalRegister.Gov
  • Understanding the Federal Register
  • Recent Site Updates
  • Federal Register & CFR Statistics
  • Videos & Tutorials
  • Developer Resources
  • Government Policy and OFR Procedures
  • Congressional Review
  • My Clipboard
  • My Comments
  • My Subscriptions
  • Sign In / Sign Up
  • Site Feedback
  • Search the Federal Register

The Federal Register

The daily journal of the united states government.

  • Legal Status

This site displays a prototype of a “Web 2.0” version of the daily Federal Register. It is not an official legal edition of the Federal Register, and does not replace the official print version or the official electronic version on GPO’s govinfo.gov.

The documents posted on this site are XML renditions of published Federal Register documents. Each document posted on the site includes a link to the corresponding official PDF file on govinfo.gov. This prototype edition of the daily Federal Register on FederalRegister.gov will remain an unofficial informational resource until the Administrative Committee of the Federal Register (ACFR) issues a regulation granting it official legal status. For complete information about, and access to, our official publications and services, go to About the Federal Register on NARA's archives.gov.

The OFR/GPO partnership is committed to presenting accurate and reliable regulatory information on FederalRegister.gov with the objective of establishing the XML-based Federal Register as an ACFR-sanctioned publication in the future. While every effort has been made to ensure that the material on FederalRegister.gov is accurately displayed, consistent with the official SGML-based PDF version on govinfo.gov, those relying on it for legal research should verify their results against an official edition of the Federal Register. Until the ACFR grants it official status, the XML rendition of the daily Federal Register on FederalRegister.gov does not provide legal notice to the public or judicial notice to the courts.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Status for the Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtle with a Section 4(d) Rule

A Rule by the Fish and Wildlife Service on 06/27/2024

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register .

Document Statistics

Enhanced content.

Relevant information about this document from Regulations.gov provides additional context. This information is not part of the official Federal Register document.

Regulations.gov Logo

  • Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtle Final Rule Literature Cited - See Attachments
  • Literature Cited -- See attachments for individual reference files
  • Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtle SSA v1.0 Peer Reviewer COI_DMoll
  • Suwannee alligator snapping turtle SSA v1.0 Peer Reviewer Comments
  • Suwannee alligator snapping turtle SSA v1.1

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register . Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Enhanced Content - Table of Contents

This table of contents is a navigational tool, processed from the headings within the legal text of Federal Register documents. This repetition of headings to form internal navigation links has no substantive legal effect.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Supplementary information:, executive summary, previous federal actions, peer review, summary of changes from the proposed rule, summary of comments and recommendations, public comments, comments from states, public comments categorized by topic, species' status, critical habitat, i. final listing determination, regulatory and analytical framework, regulatory framework, analytical framework, summary of biological status and threats, harvest (commercial and poaching), impacts of harvest, habitat alteration and degradation, nest predation, climate change, other stressors, conservation efforts and regulatory mechanisms, clean water act, convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora (cites), national wildlife refuges, department of defense—moody air force base, state protections, state and federal stream protections (deadhead logging), state and federal stream protections (buffers and permits), suwannee river water management district (srwmd), current condition, future condition, determination of suwannee alligator snapping turtle status, status throughout all of its range, status throughout a significant portion of its range, determination of status, available conservation measures, ii. protective regulations under section 4(d) of the act, provisions of the 4(d) rule, iii. critical habitat, prudency determination, required determinations, national environmental policy act ( 42 u.s.c. 4321 et seq.), government-to-government relationship with tribes, references cited, list of subjects in 50 cfr part 17, regulation promulgation, part 17—endangered and threatened wildlife and plants, enhanced content - submit public comment.

  • This feature is not available for this document.

Enhanced Content - Read Public Comments

Enhanced content - sharing.

  • Email this document to a friend

Enhanced Content - Document Print View

  • Print this document

Enhanced Content - Document Tools

These tools are designed to help you understand the official document better and aid in comparing the online edition to the print edition.

These markup elements allow the user to see how the document follows the Document Drafting Handbook that agencies use to create their documents. These can be useful for better understanding how a document is structured but are not part of the published document itself.

Enhanced Content - Developer Tools

This document is available in the following developer friendly formats:.

  • JSON: Normalized attributes and metadata
  • XML: Original full text XML
  • MODS: Government Publishing Office metadata

More information and documentation can be found in our developer tools pages .

Official Content

  • View printed version (PDF)

This PDF is the current document as it appeared on Public Inspection on 06/26/2024 at 8:45 am. It was viewed 0 times while on Public Inspection.

If you are using public inspection listings for legal research, you should verify the contents of the documents against a final, official edition of the Federal Register. Only official editions of the Federal Register provide legal notice of publication to the public and judicial notice to the courts under 44 U.S.C. 1503 & 1507 . Learn more here .

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

Final rule.

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine threatened species status under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended, for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle ( Macrochelids suwanniensis ), a large, freshwater turtle species from the Suwannee River basin in Florida and Georgia. This rule adds the species to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. We also finalize a rule issued under the authority of section 4(d) of the Act that provides measures that are necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of this species. We have determined that designating critical habitat for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is not prudent.

This rule is effective July 29, 2024.

This final rule is available on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2021-0007 and on the Service's Environmental Conservation Online System (ECOS) species page at https://ecos.fws.gov/​ecp/​species/​10891 . Comments and materials we received, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this rule, are available for public inspection at https://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2021-0007.

Availability of supporting materials: Supporting materials we used in preparing this rule, such as the species status assessment report, are available at https://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2021-0007.

Lourdes Mena, Classification and Recovery Division Manager, Florida Ecological Services Field Office, 7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 32256-7517; email: [email protected] ; telephone: 352-749-2462.

Individuals in the United States who are deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability may dial 711 (TTY, TDD, or Tele Braille) to access telecommunications relay services. Individuals outside the United States should use the relay services offered within their country to make international calls to the point-of-contact in the United States.

Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Act, a species warrants listing if it meets the definition of an endangered species (in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range) or a threatened species (likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range). If we determine that a species warrants listing, we must list the species promptly and designate the species' critical habitat to the maximum extent prudent and determinable.We have determined that the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle meets the Act's definition of a threatened species; therefore, we are listing it as such. Listing a species as an endangered or threatened species can be completed only by issuing a rule through the Administrative Procedure Act rulemaking process ( 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq. ).

What this document does. This rule lists the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle ( Macrochelys suwanniensis ) as a threatened species and finalizes the rule issued under the authority of section 4(d) of the Act (the “4(d) rule”) that provides measures that are necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of this species.

The basis for our action. Under the Act, we may determine that a species is an endangered or threatened species based on any of five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. We have determined that the primary threats acting on the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle include illegal harvest and collection (Factor B), nest predation (Factor C), and hook ingestion and entanglement due to bycatch associated with freshwater fishing (Factor E).

Please refer to the April 7, 2021, proposed rule ( 86 FR 18014 ) for a detailed description of previous Federal actions concerning the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle.

A species status assessment (SSA) team prepared an SSA report, version 1.0, for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle (Service 2020, entire). The SSA team was composed of Service biologists, in consultation with other species experts. The SSA report represents a compilation of the best scientific and commercial data available concerning the status of the species, including the impacts of past, present, and future factors (both negative and beneficial) affecting the species.

In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 ( 59 FR 34270 ), and our August 22, 2016, memorandum updating and clarifying the role of peer review of listing actions under the Act, we sought peer review of the SSA report version 1.0 (Service 2020, entire). As discussed in the proposed rule, we sent the SSA report to four independent peer reviewers and received responses from one reviewer. The peer review can be viewed at https://www.regulations.gov and at our Florida Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT ). In preparing the proposed rule, we incorporated the results of this review, as appropriate, into the SSA report, which was the foundation for the proposed rule and this final rule. A summary of the peer review comments and our responses can be found in in the Summary of Comments and Recommendations below.

In preparing this final rule, we reviewed and fully considered comments we received on our April 7, 2021, proposed rule to list the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle as a threatened species with a 4(d) rule. We updated the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle SSA report (to version 1.2 (Service 2022, entire) based on comments and additional information provided during the proposed rule's Start Printed Page 53508 comment period. Those updates are reflected in this final rule, as follows:

1. We update the description of the species' representation and redundancy and clarify these conservation principles to provide a better understanding of the species' current and future viability.

2. We include new information provided during the comment period regarding the effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs) associated with forest management practices. We added a discussion on ways in which the implementation of such BMPs provides conservation benefits to the species.

3. For the 4(d) rule, we are not including the exception from prohibitions associated with Federal and State captive-breeding programs to support conservation efforts for wild populations. We determined this provision is redundant with the exception under 50 CFR 17.31(b) , which is already included in the 4(d) rule.

4. For the 4(d) rule, we are not including the exception from the prohibitions regarding incidental take resulting from herbicide/pesticide use from this final rule. We do not have enough information about the types or amounts of pesticides that may be applied in areas where Suwannee alligator snapping turtle occurs to be able assess the future impacts to the species. The additional materials provided during the public comment period indicate impacts to other turtle species from pesticide use occurs (Bishop et al. 1991, entire; Sparling et al. 2006, entire; Kittle et al. 2018, entire). Therefore, including this exception to incidental take may not provide for the conservation of the species. Further, we note that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not consulted on most pesticide registrations to date, so excepting take solely based on user compliance with label directions and State and local regulations EPA has not consulted on most pesticide registrations to date and is not appropriate in this situation. Retaining this exception in the absence of consultation on a specific pesticide registration may create confusion regarding the consideration of these impacts and whether Federal regulatory processes apply to these activities. It was not our intent to supersede the consultation on the pesticide registration nor other Federal activities.

5. For the 4(d) rule, we revise the text of the exception from incidental take prohibition resulting from forestry management practices. We remove the terms “silviculture and silvicultural practices” and replace them with “forest management practices” to clarify the exception to incidental take prohibitions, as this is more appropriate for the intent and purpose of the rule.

6. For the 4(d) rule, we are not including the exception from incidental take prohibition resulting from construction, operation, and maintenance activities that occur near and in a stream. We determined this exception is too vague to meaningfully provide conservation benefits to the species. In addition, this exception could have caused confusion regarding whether Federal or State regulatory processes apply to these activities. Many activities occurring near or in a stream require permits or project review by Federal or State agencies, and including this exception could have been interpreted as removing these requirements, which was not our intention.

7. For the 4(d) rule, we are not including the exception from incidental take prohibition resulting from maintenance dredging activities that occur in the previously disturbed portion of a maintained channel. We determined this exception is too vague to meaningfully provide conservation benefits to the species. In addition, dredging activities to promote river traffic can cause temporary turbidity, leading to decreased ability to see and ambush prey species; the removal of underwater snags, which could reduce prey availability by eliminating areas where prey is found ( e.g., congregation areas, nursery areas, feeding areas); and the filling of scour areas used to ambush prey. In addition, this exception could have caused confusion regarding whether Federal or State regulatory processes apply to these activities. All in-water work, including dredging in previously dredged area, requires appropriate State and Federal permits, so including this exception could have been interpreted as removing this requirement, which was not our intention.

8. For the 4(d) rule, we are not including the exception from prohibitions for Tribal employees and State-licensed wildlife rehabilitation facilities. A provision under 50 CFR 17.31(b)(1) now extends to federally recognized Tribes the exceptions to prohibitions for threatened wildlife to aid, salvage, or dispose of threatened wildlife and is already included in this 4(d) rule. We also are not including the exception from prohibitions for State-licensed wildlife rehabilitation facilities because it is redundant with the provision at 50 CFR 17.21(c)(3) , which allows take of endangered wildlife without a permit if such action is necessary to aid a sick, injured, or orphaned specimen without additional authorization, which is also already included in the 4(d) rule.

9. We update information to reflect that the alligator snapping turtle ( Macrochelys temminckii ) was transferred from Appendix III of CITES to Appendix II (CITES 2023, pp. 45-46).

10. We make minor, nonsubstantive editorial corrections and revisions for clarity and consistency throughout this document.

The information we received during the comment period on our April 7, 2021, proposed rule did not change our determination that the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle meets the Act's definition of a threatened species. The information provided through the comment period also did not cause us to revise our determination that designation of critical habitat for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is not prudent.

In the proposed rule published on April 7, 2021 ( 86 FR 18014 ), we requested that all interested parties submit written comments on the proposal by June 7, 2021. We also contacted appropriate Federal and State agencies, scientific experts and organizations, and other interested parties and invited them to comment on the proposed listing determination and proposed 4(d) rule. A newspaper notice inviting general public comment was published in the Gainesville Sun on April 21, 2021. We did not receive any requests for a public hearing. All substantive information provided during the comment period either has been incorporated directly into the final rule or is addressed below.

As discussed in Peer Review above, we received a response from one peer reviewer on the draft SSA report. As discussed above, because we conducted this peer review prior to the publication of our proposed rule, we had already incorporated all applicable peer review comments into version 1.1 of the SSA report, which was the foundation for the proposed rule and this final rule and ultimately into the latest version of the SSA report, version 1.2 (Service 2022, entire). The peer reviewer generally concurred with our methods and conclusions and provided additional information regarding seed dispersal by the common snapping turtle ( Chelydra sepentina ). We added the information provided by the peer reviewer into the SSA report, version 1.1 (Service 2021, entire) as appropriate. Start Printed Page 53509

We received 34 public comments in response to our April 7, 2021, proposed rule. We reviewed all comments we received during the public comment period for substantive issues and new information regarding the proposed rule. Seventeen comments provided substantive comments or new information concerning the proposed listing of the species' status, proposed 4(d) rule, and prudency determination for critical habitat for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. Below, we provide a summary of public comments we received; however, comments that we incorporated as changes into the final rule, comments outside the scope of the proposed rule, and those without supporting information did not warrant an explicit response and, thus, are not presented here. Identical or similar comments have been consolidated and a single response provided.

(1) Comment: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR), Wildlife Resources Division commented that occasional observations by biologists and anglers indicate that ensnarement and/or hook ingestion by Suwannee alligator snapping turtle may occur as a result of legal fishing methods in Georgia, and research is needed to further quantify population impacts of incidental take on this species. The GDNR also recommended the rule place greater emphasis on promoting practices and regulations to reduce impacts to the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle from abandoned fishing gear.

Our Response: We plan to work with both GDNR and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to better understand impacts from legal and abandoned fishing gear. As discussed in our April 7, 2021, proposed rule, turtle bycatch from legal recreational and commercial fishing with hoop nets and trot lines (and varieties including jug lines, bush hooks, and limb lines) is a concern for the conservation of the species due to its effects on species abundance, particularly in light of the species' life-history traits. It is important to ensure that fishing activities take into consideration the need to prevent accidental turtle deaths from the use of such fishing gear, and we will work with our State partners to identify measures and revisions to existing State fishing regulations to reduce bycatch of Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. Given we did not receive information during the comment period for bycatch reduction techniques, we did not include an exception for incidental take of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle resulting from bycatch from otherwise lawful recreational and commercial fishing in our final 4(d) rule. Therefore, take of the species resulting from bycatch activities is prohibited in the 4(d) rule.

(2) Comment: One commenter stated their view that the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle should be listed as an endangered species rather than a threatened species.

Our Response: An endangered species is one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Based on the best available information as described in the SSA report (Service 2022, entire), we do not find that the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The current condition of the species provides for sufficient resiliency, redundancy, and representation such that it is not currently in danger of extinction (see Determination of Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtle Status in the proposed listing rule ( 86 FR 18014 , April 7, 2021, at pp. 18026-18028) and below in this final rule). When evaluating the species' status based on the threats and the species' response to the threats in the future, the species meets the Act's definition of a threatened species because it is at risk of becoming an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range. The commenters did not provide any new information regarding threats to the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle or its current status that was not already considered in the SSA report (Service 2021, entire) or our April 7, 2021, proposed rule. With no new information to consider, our conclusion regarding the status of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle remains the same.

(3) Comment: A commenter suggested we list the common snapping turtle ( C. serpentina ) under the Act based on similarity of appearance (see 16 U.S.C. 1533(e) ) to help curb the threat of incidental captures of Suwannee alligator snapping turtles by trappers that are targeting common snapping turtles.

Our Response: Under section 4(e) of the Act ( 16 U.S.C. 1533(e) ), a species may be listed as endangered or threatened due to similarity of appearance of a listed species if the species so closely resemble one another that it is difficult to tell them apart and if this similarity is a threat to the species that is warranted for listing. The likelihood of incidental capture from legal common snapping turtle harvest is anticipated to be low due to the disparity between the preferred habitat types used by the common snapping turtle and the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. Common snapping turtle habitat typically includes impoundments such as lakes, ponds, and oxbows. The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle prefers more riverine systems. While there may be some overlap between these habitat types and their ranges, the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle can be distinguished from the common snapping turtle based on certain physical characteristics. The common snapping turtle shares some similar features to the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, but there are distinctive characteristics that can aid in differentiation of the two species. The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle's carapace has three keeled ridges and a curved, hooked, beak-like projection at the mouth, while the common snapping turtle lacks these features. Because of the physical characteristics that are unique to each species that facilitate identification, we have determined that listing the common snapping turtle due to similarity of appearance is not necessary or appropriate.

(4) Comment: One commenter noted the Service's analysis of redundancy and representation for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle in the SSA report was contrary to the agency's SSA framework and commented that we did not describe representation in a meaningful way.

Our Response: Our analysis of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle's redundancy and representation adheres to the definitions presented in the SSA framework. Representation is the ability of the species to adapt to both near-term and long-term changes in its physical and biological environment, and redundancy is the ability of the species to withstand catastrophic events. At the time of our April 7, 2021, proposed rule, the best available scientific information regarding the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle indicated there was no genetic or environmental condition variation across the species' range. We assessed representation, which measures a species' adaptive potential in the face of natural or anthropogenic changes, as inherently low for this species, because the best available information at that time showed it lacked significant genetic variation within its single population. Based on Start Printed Page 53510 the public comments and new literature related to assessing adaptive capacity (Thurman et al. 2020, entire), in this final rule and our revised SSA report, version 1.2 (Service 2022, entire), we updated our discussion of representation by describing the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle's adaptive capacity in terms of its genetic, biological, and ecological traits necessary to understand the species' plasticity to changing conditions over time. Adaptive capacity reflects the amount of tolerance for change based on genotypic and phenotypic attributes. Change can include impacts from climate change ( e.g., higher air and water temperatures, saltwater intrusion, etc.) and humans ( e.g., water withdrawal, fishing gear, habitat alterations, etc.). We assessed the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle to have low to moderate adaptive capacity in the life-history and demography traits and moderate to high adaptive capacity in the distribution, movement, evolutionary potential, ecological role, and abiotic niche traits. Further information on how we describe the species in terms of its adaptive capacity with its ability to acclimate to environmental stressors can be found in our SSA report, version 1.2 (Service 2022, pp. 37-39).

For redundancy, in our proposed and this final rule, we assessed current redundancy as limited, as the species is considered a single population with no physical barriers to movement. While there is only a single population, it is widely distributed across the historical range. We assessed the chance of a catastrophic event affecting the entire species as very low. However, given the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is currently assessed as a single population with an estimated abundance of 2,000 turtles across the species' historical range, we determined redundancy to be naturally limited, given the species' distribution is limited to the Suwannee River basin.

(5) Comment: One commenter inquired why the Service did not apply the blanket 4(d) rule to this species.

Our Response: Prior to August 27, 2019, the prohibitions for endangered species under section 9 of the Act were generally extended to threatened species (referred to as the “blanket 4(d) rule”) unless we adopted a species-specific 4(d) rule for a particular species. On August 27, 2019, we published a final rule ( 84 FR 44753 ) removing the blanket 4(d) rule for threatened species. That 2019 final rule was in effect when we published our April 7, 2021, proposed rule for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle and is still in effect. On May 6, 2024, a rule became effective that re-instated the blanket 4(d) rule ( 89 FR 23919 ). The updated regulations extend the majority of the protections (all of the prohibitions that apply to endangered species under section 9 with certain exceptions to those prohibitions) to threatened species, unless we issue an alternative rule under section 4(d) of the Act for a particular species ( i.e., a species-specific 4(d) rule). For species with a species-specific 4(d) rule, that rule contains all of the protective regulations for that species. We exercised our authority under section 4(d) of the Act and developed a proposed species-specific 4(d) rule to address the specific threats and conservation needs of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. The 4(d) rule is necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. For the species-specific 4(d) rule, we determined that it is not necessary to apply all of the Act's section 9 prohibitions to the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle; the provisions of the species-specific 4(d) rule are described below under Provisions of the 4(d) Rule and set forth below under Regulation Promulgation.

(6) Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the Service's description of the exceptions for construction, operation, and maintenance in the 4(d) rule is too broad and vague to determine when the exception applies.

Our Response: We agree that it is difficult to understand and identify specific situations when the exception to incidental take resulting for construction, operation, and maintenance activities would apply. Accordingly, as stated above under Summary of Changes from the Proposed Rule, we are not including an exception to the incidental take prohibitions in the 4(d) rule for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle because it is too vague to meaningfully provide conservation benefits to the species. In addition, many activities occurring near or in a stream require permits or project review by Federal or State agencies, and, if retained, this exception would have caused confusion with respect to the requirements that must be met when undertaking these activities.

(7) Comment: One commenter expressed concern about an exception for silviculture and forestry BMPs, given the implementation of less effective silviculture and forestry BMPs for riparian areas and potential negative impacts to the species.

Our Response: State-approved BMPs for silviculture and forestry maintain riparian buffers, resulting in reduced sedimentation into the stream from upland sources, reduced water temperature, increased dissolved oxygen, and more material for in-water woody debris. These attributes promote aquatic diversity and are required for healthy habitats.

Implementing BMPs that avoid or minimize the effects of habitat alterations in areas that support Suwannee alligator snapping turtles will provide additional measures for conserving the species by reducing indirect effects to the species. We recognize that silvicultural operations are widely implemented in accordance with State-approved forestry BMPs (as reviewed by Cristan et al. 2018, entire), which provide more stringent riparian protections, and the adherence to these BMPs broadly protects water quality, particularly related to sedimentation (as reviewed by Cristan et al. 2016, entire; Warrington et al. 2017, entire; and Schilling et al. 2021, entire). For example, Florida's State silviculture BMPs for designated outstanding Florida waters, such as the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers, require a 300-foot buffer on each side of the river. Forestry and silvicultural activities that implement State-approved BMPs will have a de minimis impact on the species, and we have determined that this exception to the incidental take prohibitions in the 4(d) rule will be beneficial to the species. If forestry and silvicultural activities do not implement or improperly implement BMPs, then this exception will not apply.

(8) Comment: One commenter suggested that current regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the threat of incidental bycatch to the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, and a 4(d) rule that excepts take incidental to recreational fishing activities would only be appropriate if the methods of fishing that incidentally capture turtles were prohibited or significantly modified to prevent incidental capture.

Our Response: In the proposed rule, we requested information regarding ideas for the design of a turtle escape or exclusion device and modified trot line techniques that would effectively eliminate or significantly reduce bycatch of alligator snapping turtles from recreational fishing; however, we did not receive any comments to inform fishing gear modifications to reduce bycatch of Suwannee alligator snapping turtles. Recreational fishing activities are regulated by State natural resource and fish and game agencies, and these agencies issue permits for these Start Printed Page 53511 activities in accordance with their regulations. We will coordinate with State agencies to better understand the impacts of permitted recreational fishing on Suwannee alligator snapping turtles. In addition, we will work with the State to reduce the risk of bycatch, which may include modifying fishing mechanisms based on the best available science related to reducing fishing impacts through research and development on innovative fishing technologies and methodologies. Additionally, we will continue coordinating with State agencies on the development of public awareness programs regarding identification and conservation of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. Further, since we did not receive information during the comment period for bycatch reduction techniques, we do not include in the 4(d) rule an exception to incidental take of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle resulting from bycatch from otherwise lawful recreational and commercial fishing using techniques to reduce bycatch. Therefore, take of the species resulting from bycatch is prohibited by the 4(d) rule.

(9) Comment: One commenter expressed concern about the 4(d) rule's exception to the take prohibition for pesticide and herbicide use. The commenter stated that the exception is arbitrary and not supported by the best available scientific and commercial data. The commenter stated that exposure to pesticides and herbicides is harmful to turtle species and provided several citations to support the comment (such as, Bishop et al. 1991, entire; Sparling et al. 2006, entire; Kittle et al. 2018, entire))

Our Response: After review of the comments to the proposed rule and revisiting the best available scientific and commercial information, we are not including the pesticide and herbicide use exception from the incidental take prohibitions in the final 4(d) rule. In the proposed rule and this final rule, we describe the primary threats to the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle as illegal harvest and collection, nest predation, and hook ingestion and entanglement due to bycatch associated with freshwater fishing. And although nest predation is a primary threat to the species, the most common nest predators identified are raccoons ( Procyon lotor ). Nonnative, invasive species, such as feral pigs ( Sus scrofa ) and red imported fire ants ( Solenopsis invicta ), occur across the species' range, but to date, nest predation by these nonnative species has not been documented. In the preamble of our proposed 4(d) rule, we proposed an exception to incidental take prohibitions resulting from invasive species removal activities using pesticides and herbicides as these types of activities could be considered beneficial to the native ecosystem and are likely to improve habitat conditions for the species. However, we do not have enough information about the types or amounts of pesticides that may be applied in areas where Suwannee alligator snapping turtle occurs to be able assess the future impacts to the species.

The additional materials provided during the public comment period do not indicate Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is impacted greatly from pesticides used to reduce impacts from nonnative, invasive species; however, the information provided does indicate impacts to other turtle species from pesticide use (Bishop et al. 1991, entire; Sparling et al. 2006, entire; Kittle et al. 2018, entire). As documented in other turtle species from the literature provided by the commenter, we assessed that there is the potential of indirect effects from pesticides on the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, and therefore, including this exception to incidental take may not provide for the conservation of the species.

Further, we note that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not consulted on most pesticide registrations to date, so excepting take solely based on users complying with labels is not appropriate in this situation. Thus, we are not including the exception from the prohibitions regarding incidental take resulting from herbicide/pesticide use from this final rule.

(10) Comment: One commenter suggested modifying the 4(d) rule to except captive breeding for turtles held in captivity prior to the effective date of the listing to allow for appropriate captive-breeding programs to contribute to the conservation of the species.

Our Response: We recognize the contribution of permitted captive breeding to the conservation of species. However, there are currently no captive-breeding efforts occurring for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle; therefore, there are no existing captive-breeding programs that we could except prior to the effective date of this final rule (see DATES , above). There are programs underway for M. temminckii that include captive rearing, head-start programs, and reintroductions that are successful. Similar programs may be implemented in the future to conserve the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. In our proposed 4(d) rule, we included a provision allowing incidental take associated with Federal and State captive-breeding programs to support conservation efforts for wild populations. However, we determined this provision is duplicative of an exception under 50 CFR 17.31(b) , which we also included in the proposed 4(d) rule and retain in this final 4(d) rule. Therefore, this final 4(d) rule does not include a separate captive-breeding exception from the incidental take prohibitions.

(11) Comment: A commenter claimed that the Service did not provide sufficient support for the not-prudent finding for critical habitat designation regarding the threat of illegal collection of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. The commenter also indicates the location data and maps are already available to the public in published reports.

Our Response: We recognize that designation of critical habitat can provide benefits to listed species; however, for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, increased threats caused by the designation outweigh the benefits (for further discussion, see 86 FR 18014 , April 7, 2021, at p. 18032). We do not dispute the claim that publicly available reports identify specific location data for the species, including locations of where the species occurs from trapping efforts. We acknowledge that general location information is provided within the proposed rule and this final rule, and some specific location information can be found through other sources. However, because the critical habitat designation process includes identifying the physical or biological features for the species and specific areas occupied by the species, the designation of critical habitat would describe and disclose areas of higher quality habitat that supports more turtles, which may allow collectors to better focus their efforts in these areas, thereby exacerbating the threat of collection or other harm from humans.

Please refer to the April 7, 2021, proposed rule ( 86 FR 18014 ) and the SSA report, version 1.2 (Service 2022, pp. 4-14) for a full summary of species' information. Both are available on our ECOS website for the species at https://ecos.fws.gov/​ecp/​species/​10891 and at https://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2021-0007.

A thorough review of the taxonomy, distribution, life history, and ecology of Start Printed Page 53512 the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle ( Macrochelys suwanniensis ) is presented in the SSA report version 1.2 (Service 2022, pp. 13-22); however, much of this information is based on the Macrochelys genus as a whole and describes the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle using the best available information.

Turtles in the genus Macrochelys are the largest species of freshwater turtle in North America, are highly aquatic, and are somewhat secretive. The genus includes two distinct species, M. temminckii and M. suwanniensis. Macrochelys turtles are characterized as having a large head, long tail, and an upper jaw with a strongly hooked beak. They have three raised keels with posterior elevations on the scutes of the carapace (upper shell), which is dark brown and often has algal growth that adds to their camouflage. Their eyes are positioned on the side of the head and are surrounded by small, fleshy, pointed projections that are unique to the genus.

Suwannee alligator snapping turtles are primarily freshwater turtles endemic to the Suwannee River basin and found more abundantly in the middle reaches of the Suwannee River where freshwater springs contribute to an increase in productivity of the aquatic system (Enge et al. 2014, p. 36). These turtles are typically bottom-dwelling, but surface periodically to breathe (Thomas 2014, p. 60). While the species is typically found in fresh water, it can tolerate some salinity and brackish waters, as barnacles have been found on the carapace of some turtles. The species is found in a variety of habitats across its range, but all life stages rely on submerged material ( i.e., deadhead logs and vegetation) as important structure for resting, foraging, and cover from predators (Enge et al. 2014, p. 39).

The Suwannee River basin encompasses parts of southern Georgia and northern Florida. Main water bodies that currently or historically supported the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle include the Suwannee River, Santa Fe River, New River, Alapaha River, Little River, and Withlacoochee River. Individuals occupy main river channels and tributaries where habitat is present.

Throughout this document, we provide descriptions of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle where the information is available specific to the species. We describe the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle as Macrochelys suwanniensis or Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. We reference Macrochelys when describing the genus and Macrochelys temminckii (abbreviated as M. temminckii ) when referring to the second species of the genus, alligator snapping turtle. Since the taxonomic distinction of the two Macrochelys spp. is relatively recent, we may refer to the genus, or alligator snapping turtles in general, to describe life-history traits.

The general life stages of Macrochelys spp. can be described as egg, hatchling (first year), juvenile (second year until age of sexual maturity), and adult (age of sexual maturity through death). Each life stage has specific requirements in order to contribute to the productivity of the next life stage. They excavate nests in sandy soils or other dry substrate near freshwater sources that are within 8 to 656 feet (ft) (2.5 to 200 meters (m)) from the shore. The incubation period for Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is between 105 to 110 days (Ernst and Lovich 2009, p. 145).

Males achieve sexual maturity in 11-21 years and females in 13-21 years (Ernst and Lovich 2009, p. 144; Reed et al. 2002, p. 4). The age of sexual maturity can be influenced by the size of the turtle, as size increases are greater when food resources and other environmental conditions are more favorable. Adult Suwannee alligator snapping turtles require streams and rivers with submerged logs and undercut banks, clean water, and ample prey.

Female alligator snapping turtles may produce a single clutch once a year or every other year at most even if the conditions are good (Reed et al. 2002, p. 4). Clutch size may vary across the species' range to between 9 and 61 eggs, with a mean clutch size of 27 eggs (Ernst and Lovich 2009, p. 145). Most nesting occurs from May to July (Reed et al. 2002, p. 4).

Suwannee alligator snapping turtles are long-lived species; provided suitable conditions, adults can reach carapace lengths of up to 29 inches and 249 pounds for males, while females can reach lengths of 22 inches and 62 pounds. The oldest documented Macrochelys turtle in captivity survived to at least 80 years of age, but in the wild, the species may live longer (Ernst and Lovich 2009, p. 147). The generation time for the species is around 31 years (range = 28.6-34.0 years, 95 percent confidence interval, Folt et al. 2016, p. 27).

Section 4 of the Act ( 16 U.S.C. 1533 ) and the implementing regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations set forth the procedures for determining whether a species is an endangered species or a threatened species, issuing protective regulations for threatened species, and designating critical habitat for endangered and threatened species. On April 5, 2024, jointly with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Service issued a final rule that revised the regulations in 50 CFR part 424 regarding how we add, remove, and reclassify endangered and threatened species and what criteria we apply when designating listed species' critical habitat ( 89 FR 24300 ). On the same day, the Service published a final rule revising our protections for endangered species and threatened species at 50 CFR part 17 ( 89 FR 23919 ). These final rules are now in effect and are incorporated into the current regulations. Our analysis for this final decision applied our current regulations. Given that we proposed listing for this species under our prior regulations (revised in 2019), we have also undertaken an analysis of whether our decision would be different if we had continued to apply the 2019 regulations; we concluded that the decision would be the same. The analyses under both the regulations currently in effect as of May 6, 2024, and the 2019 regulations are available on https://www.regulations.gov .

The Act defines an “endangered species” as a species that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and a “threatened species” as a species that is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The Act requires that we determine whether any species is an endangered species or a threatened species because of any of the following factors:

(A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;

(B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;

(C) Disease or predation;

(D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or

(E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.

These factors represent broad categories of natural or human-caused actions or conditions that could have an effect on a species' continued existence. In evaluating these actions and conditions, we look for those that may have a negative effect on individuals of the species, as well as other actions or conditions that may ameliorate any negative effects or may have positive effects.

We use the term “threat” to refer in general to actions or conditions that are known to or are reasonably likely to Start Printed Page 53513 negatively affect individuals of a species. The term “threat” includes actions or conditions that have a direct impact on individuals (direct impacts), as well as those that affect individuals through alteration of their habitat or required resources (stressors). The term “threat” may encompass—either together or separately—the source of the action or condition or the action or condition itself.

However, the mere identification of any threat(s) does not necessarily mean that the species meets the statutory definition of an “endangered species” or a “threatened species.” In determining whether a species meets either definition, we must evaluate all identified threats by considering the species' expected response and the effects of the threats—in light of those actions and conditions that will ameliorate the threats—on an individual, population, and species level. We evaluate each threat and its expected effects on the species, then analyze the cumulative effect of all of the threats on the species as a whole. We also consider the cumulative effect of the threats in light of those actions and conditions that will have positive effects on the species, such as any existing regulatory mechanisms or conservation efforts. The Secretary determines whether the species meets the definition of an “endangered species” or a “threatened species” only after conducting this cumulative analysis and describing the expected effect on the species now and in the foreseeable future.

The Act does not define the term “foreseeable future,” which appears in the statutory definition of “threatened species.” Our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.11(d) set forth a framework for evaluating the foreseeable future on a case-by-case basis which is further described in the 2009 Memorandum Opinion on the foreseeable future from the Department of the Interior, Office of the Solicitor (M-37021, January 16, 2009; “M- Opinion,” available online at https://www.doi.gov/​sites/​doi.opengov.ibmcloud.com/​files/​uploads/​M-37021.pdf ). The foreseeable future extends as far into the future as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (hereafter, the Services) can make reasonably reliable predictions about the threats to the species and the species' responses to those threats. We need not identify the foreseeable future in terms of a specific period of time. We will describe the foreseeable future on a case-by-case basis, using the best available data and taking into account considerations such as the species' life-history characteristics, threat-projection timeframes, and environmental variability. In other words, the foreseeable future is the period of time over which we can make reasonably reliable predictions. “Reliable” does not mean “certain”; it means sufficient to provide a reasonable degree of confidence in the prediction, in light of the conservation purposes of the Act.

The SSA report documents the results of our comprehensive biological review of the best scientific and commercial data regarding the status of the species, including an assessment of the potential threats to the species. The SSA report does not represent our decision on whether the species should be listed as an endangered or threatened species under the Act. However, it does provide the scientific basis that informs our regulatory decisions, which involve the further application of standards within the Act and its implementing regulations and policies.

To assess Suwannee alligator snapping turtle's viability, we used the three conservation biology principles of resiliency, redundancy, and representation (Shaffer and Stein 2000, pp. 306-310). Briefly, resiliency is the ability of the species to withstand environmental and demographic stochasticity (for example, wet or dry, warm or cold years); redundancy is the ability of the species to withstand catastrophic events (for example, droughts, large pollution events); and representation is the ability of the species to adapt to both near-term and long-term changes in its physical and biological environment (for example, climate conditions, pathogens). In general, species viability will increase with increases in resiliency, redundancy, and representation (Smith et al. 2018, p. 306). Using these principles, we identified the species' ecological requirements for survival and reproduction at the individual, population, and species levels, and described the beneficial and risk factors influencing the species' viability.

The SSA process can be categorized into three sequential stages. During the first stage, we evaluated the individual species' life-history needs. The next stage involved an assessment of the historical and current condition of the species' demographics and habitat characteristics, including an explanation of how the species arrived at its current condition. The final stage of the SSA involved making predictions about the species' responses to positive and negative environmental and anthropogenic influences. Throughout all of these stages, we used the best available information to characterize viability as the ability of a species to sustain populations in the wild over time. We use this information to inform our regulatory decision. The following is a summary of the key results and conclusions from the SSA report; the full SSA report can be found at Docket FWS-R4-ES-2021-0007 on https://www.regulations.gov .

In this discussion, we review the biological condition of the species and its resources, and the threats that influence the species' current and future condition, in order to assess the species' overall viability and the risks to that viability.

The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is found in the Suwannee River basin in Georgia and Florida. The species is mostly aquatic and uses a variety of habitat types including deeper water of large rivers and their major tributaries; however, they are also found in a wide variety of habitats, including small streams, springs, bayous, canals, swamps, lakes, reservoirs, and ponds. This large turtle species is an opportunistic feeder and consumes a variety of foods. Fish comprise a significant portion of its diet; however, crayfish, mollusks, smaller turtles, insects, snakes, birds, and vegetation (including acorns) have also been reported (Elsey 2006, pp. 448-489; Elbers and Moll 2011, entire). Additional information regarding the species' needs is provided in the SSA report (Service 2022, pp. 4-14) and the proposed listing rule ( 86 FR 18014 ; April 7, 2021).

We provide information regarding past, present, and future influences, including both positive and negative influences, on the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle's current and future viability, including illegal harvest (Factor B), bycatch (Factor E), habitat loss and degradation (Factor A), nest predation (Factor C), climate change (Factor E), and conservation measures. The existing regulatory mechanisms (Factor D) have not been adequate to arrest the decline of the species. Additional threats such as historical commercial and recreational harvest targeting the species, disease, parasitic insects, boating, and contaminants are described in the SSA report (Service 2022, pp. 15-22); these additional threats may negatively affect individuals of the species or have historically Start Printed Page 53514 affected the species, particularly when compounded with other ongoing stressors or threats, but they do not impact the species' overall current or future viability.

Commercial and recreational turtle harvesting practices in the last century resulted in a decline of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle across its range (Enge et al. 2014, p. 4). Commercial harvest of both species of alligator snapping turtles reached its peak in the late 1960s and 1970s, when the meat was used for commercial turtle soup products and sold in large quantities for public consumption. In addition, many restaurants served turtle soup and purchased large quantities of alligator snapping turtles from trappers in the southeastern States (Reed et al. 2002, p. 5). In the 1970s, the demand for turtle meat was so high that as much as three to four tons of alligator snapping turtles ( M. temminckii ) were harvested from the Flint River in Georgia per day (Pritchard 1989, p. 76). The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (now the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)) reported significant numbers of turtles being taken from the Apalachicola and Ochlocknee Rivers to presumably be sent to restaurants in New Orleans and other destinations (Pritchard 1989, pp. 74-75). While such large-scale removal of Macrochelys turtles occurred across the range of the genus, the population demographics of Suwannee alligator snapping turtles in Florida indicate there was likely less commercial harvesting activities in the Suwannee River drainage than elsewhere (Enge et al. 2017, p. 6; Enge et al. 2014, entire; Johnston et al. 2015, entire).

Florida prohibited the commercial harvest of all Macrochelys spp. in 1972, and recreational or personal harvest in 2009; Georgia prohibited all harvest in 1992 (Service 2022, pp. 27-29). Despite the prohibitions on commercial and recreational harvest for the species, the historical removal of large turtles continues to affect the species due to their low fecundity, low juvenile survival, long lifespan, and delayed maturity. Commercial harvest is not currently a threat to the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, but the effect of historical, large-scale removal of large turtles is ongoing.

Although both Florida and Georgia have prohibited recreational harvest, there is an international and domestic demand for turtles for consumption and for herpetofauna enthusiasts who collect turtle species for pets (Stanford et al. 2020, entire). The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is no exception; farmed, hatchling alligator snapping turtles may be sold for up to 400 U.S. dollars per turtle (Lejeune et al. 2020, p. 8; MorphMarket 2024, unpaginated). Illegal harvest, or poaching, of Suwannee alligator snapping turtles may occur anywhere within the species' range for both the pet trade and turtle meat trade. The best available information regarding potential pressure from poaching comes from documented reports by law enforcement agencies and court cases involving the congeneric (species within the same genus) alligator snapping turtle. In 2017, three men were convicted of violating the Lacey Act ( 16 U.S.C. 3371-3378 ; 18 U.S.C. 42 ) because they collected 60 large alligator snapping turtles ( M. temminckii ) in a single year in Texas and transported them across State lines (see United States v. Travis Leger et al., No. 1:17-CR-00040 (E.D. Tex.)). We expect that illegal harvest is affecting Suwannee alligator snapping turtles, given it has been documented on many occasions for the heterospecific alligator snapping turtle. Illegal harvest is an ongoing threat to the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle because removing adult female turtles from the population lowers the viability of the species by reducing reproductive potential; in addition, the species is long-lived, slow to mature, and juvenile survival is very low, making it more difficult for the historically over-harvested population to recover.

Aside from the local and domestic use of turtles, the global demand for pet turtles and turtle meat continues to increase. Many species of turtles are collected from the wild as well as bred in captivity and are sold domestically and exported internationally. Macrochelys spp. are regularly exported out of the United States, typically as hatchlings or juveniles, to initiate brood stock for overseas turtle farms and for turtle collectors. According to the Service's Law Enforcement Management Information System (LEMIS), which provides reports about the legal international wildlife trade, most shipments of live alligator snapping turtles exported from 2005 to 2018 consisted of small turtles destined mostly for Hong Kong and China (Service 2018, entire). Prior to 2006, up to 23,780 M. temminckii per year were exported from the United States ( 70 FR 74700 ; December 16, 2005). Since the time of the proposed listing, the species has been uplisted to CITES Appendix II that may provide additional protections to the species. See the section below for additional information, Conservation Efforts and Regulatory Mechanisms.

Because of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle's delayed maturity, long generation times, and relatively low reproductive output, the species cannot sustain collection from the wild, especially of adult females, over any length of time (Reed et al. 2002, pp. 8-12). Adult turtles do not reach sexual maturity until 11 to 21 years of age. A mature female typically produces only one clutch per year consisting of 8-52 eggs (Ernst and Barbour 1989, p. 133). These turtles are characterized by low survivorship in early life stages, but surviving individuals may live many decades once they reach maturity. The life-history traits of the species (low fecundity, late age of maturity, and low survival of nests and juveniles) contribute to the population's slow response rebound after historical over-exploitation. Therefore, population growth rates are extremely sensitive to the harvest of adult females. Adult female survivorship of less than 98 percent per year is considered unsustainable, and a further reduction of this adult survivorship will generally result in significant local population declines (Reed et al. 2002, p. 9), although dynamics likely vary across the species' range. These data underscore how influential adult female mortality is on the ability of the species to maintain viability.

Although regulatory harvest restrictions have decreased the number of Suwannee alligator snapping turtles harvested, populations have not necessarily increased in response. This lag in population response is likely due to the demography of the species—specifically delayed maturity, long generation times, and relatively low reproductive output. The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle population remains low despite commercial and recreational harvest prohibitions (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 2017, p. 6). Through expert elicitation, the magnitude of the threat of illegal harvest or poaching across the basin ranges from 20-55 percent of the species' range may be affected (Service 2022, p. 28).

Suwannee alligator snapping turtles can be killed or harmed incidentally during fishing and other recreational activities. Some of these threats include fishhook ingestion; drowning when hooked on trotlines (a fishing line strung across a stream with multiple hooks set at intervals), limb lines, bush Start Printed Page 53515 hooks (single hooks hung from branches), or jug lines (line with a hook affixed to a floating jug); and injuries or drowning when entangled in various types of fishing line. The magnitude of the threat due to incidental hooking ( i.e., recreational trot and limb lines, fishing tackle, etc.) as provided though expert elicitation describes the impact to the species as affecting between 30-75 percent of the species' range (Service 2022, p. 28).

Hoop nets are also used to capture catfish and baitfish and are made up of a series of hoops with netting and funnels where fish enter but are unable to escape through the narrow entry point. The nets are left submerged and may entrap small Suwannee alligator snapping turtles that enter the traps and are unable to escape. Actively used or discarded fishing line and hooks pose harm to Suwannee alligator snapping turtles. They can ingest baited fishhooks and attached fishing line and depending on where ingested hooks and line lodge in the digestive tract, they can cause harm or death (Enge et al. 2014, pp. 40-41). For example, hooks and line can cause gastrointestinal tract blockages, and the hooks can puncture the digestive organs, leading to mortality (Enge et al. 2014, pp. 40-41). Fishhooks have been found in the gastrointestinal tracts of radiographed Suwannee alligator snapping turtles (Enge et al. 2014, entire; Thomas 2014, pp. 42-43).

Trotlines also negatively affect Suwannee alligator snapping turtles. Trotlines are a series of submerged lines with hooks off a longer line. Trotline fishing involves leaving the lines unattended for extended periods, before returning to check them. Limblines and bush hooks are similar to trot lines in that they are typically set and left unattended; however, they only use a single hook. The turtles can become entangled in the lines and drown, as well as ingest trotline hooks and lines, also causing drowning or internal injuries. Bycatch from trotlines that resulted in mortality of Macrochelys turtles has been well documented. Dead turtles have been found on lines that had seemingly been abandoned (Moore et al. 2013, p. 145). The lines and hooks may also become dislodged from their place of attachment when left unattended, becoming aquatic debris that remains in the waterway for extended periods of time and may continue to be an entanglement hazard for many species, including Suwannee alligator snapping turtles.

The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle's aquatic and nesting habitats have been altered by anthropogenic disturbances. Changes in the riparian or nearshore areas affect the amount of suitable soils for nesting sites because the species constructs nests on land near the water. Riparian cover is important as it moderates in-stream water temperatures and dissolved oxygen levels. In addition to affecting the distribution and abundance of alligator snapping turtle prey species, these microhabitat conditions affect the snapping turtles directly. Moderate temperatures and sufficient dissolved oxygen levels allow the turtles to remain stationary on the stream bottom for longer periods, increasing the ambush foraging opportunities. Changes in the riparian structure may affect the microclimate and conditions of the associated water body, directly affecting the foraging success of the turtles.

Activities and processes that can alter habitat include dredging, deadhead logging (removal of submerged or partially submerged snags, woody debris, and other large vegetation for wood salvage), removal of riparian cover, channelization, stream bank erosion, siltation, and land use adjacent to rivers ( e.g., clearing land for agriculture). These activities negatively influence habitat suitability for Suwannee alligator snapping turtles. Erosion can change the stream bank structure, affecting the substrate that may be suitable for nesting or accessing nesting sites. Siltation affects water quality and may reduce the health and availability of prey species. Channelization destroys the natural benthic habitat and also affects the water depth and normal flow. Submerged obstacles may be removed during the channelization, which affects the microhabitat dynamics within the waterway and removes important structures for alligator snapping turtles to use for resting, foraging, and cover from predators. While channelization within the species' range does not regularly occur, it is not prohibited. Deadhead logs and fallen riparian woody debris, where present, provide refugia during low-water periods and resting areas for all life stages and support important feeding areas for hatchlings and juveniles (Enge et al. 2014, p. 40; Ewert et al. 2006, p. 62).

Suwannee alligator snapping turtle habitat is also influenced by water availability and quantity, as well as water quality, across the species' range. Ground water withdrawals in the Florida portion of the species' range are managed by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD); withdrawals increased by 64 percent between 1975 and 2000, mostly for irrigation. Most withdrawals in the basin occur in agricultural areas along the Suwannee River during the spring (March through May) (Thom et al. 2015, p. 2). Water withdrawals may reduce flow in some streams, effectively isolating some turtles from the rest of the population or making immature turtles more vulnerable to predators. Additionally, reduced water levels may impact prey abundance and distribution through restricting habitat connectivity, reducing dissolved oxygen levels, and increasing water temperatures.

Water quality may also be a factor for Suwannee alligator snapping turtles as contaminants enter the aquatic systems through runoff. The Lower Suwannee River's middle and lower basins are directly impacted by nutrients, including nitrates. Agricultural practices are the main source of nitrates, which specifically come from fertilizers and in some cases from manure and other waste products. They introduce nitrates to the river and groundwater ( i.e., springs) through surface runoff and groundwater seepage. Groundwater seepage transports nitrates to the aquifer, which then reemerge through springs and other groundwater discharge, especially during low-flow periods (Pittman et al. 1997, entire; Katz et al. 1999, entire; Thom et al. 2015, p. 2).

The direct effects of water quality and water quantity on the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle have not been quantified; however, as the human population that relies on water systems in the species' range continues to increase, the indirect effects across the entire range, coupled with other stressors, is likely to further reduce the species' viability. Underscoring the potential severity of this threat, Florida's human population is anticipated to grow from nearly 21.5 million in 2019 to more than 24.0 million by 2030 (Rayer and Wang 2020, p. 9). The public water supply demand will increase with increased human population growth. All counties within the species' range in Florida (Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Suwannee, and Union Counties) are part of the SRWMD supply area and are projected to increase the public water supply demand by an average of 11.29 percent in millions of gallons of water per day from 2010 to 2035 (SRWMD 2015, p. 42). In addition, the human population in these counties will experience an average of 17.25 percent population growth from the year 2010 to 2035 (SRWMD 2015, p. 43). As the human population increases, other threats to the species and its habitat are Start Printed Page 53516 likely to increase. For example, recreational use of the Suwannee River will more than likely continue to rise, which will increase human encounters with Suwannee alligator snapping turtles through incidental bycatch. Also, more development may result in an increase in contaminated runoff and declines in water quality.

Nest predation rates for Macrochelys spp. are high. Raccoons ( Procyon lotor ) are common nest predators, but nine-banded armadillos ( Dasypus novemcinctus ), Virginia opossums ( Didelphis virginiana ), bobcats ( Lynx rufus ), and river otters ( Lontra canadensis ) may also depredate nests (Ernst and Lovich 2009, p. 149; Ewert et al. 2006, p. 67; Holcomb and Carr 2013, p. 482). Additional nonnative species found within the species' range that may depredate nests include feral pigs ( Sus scrofa ) and invasive red imported fire ants ( Solenopsis invicta ) (Pritchard 1989, p. 69). Although not documented in Suwannee alligator snapping turtle nests, fire ants are prevalent across the species' range, and predation by fire ants was the suspected culprit in the failure of alligator snapping turtle ( M. temminckii ) nests in Louisiana (Holcomb 2010, p. 51). Beyond nest failure, some hatchlings endured wounds inflicted by fire ants that led to the loss of a limb or tail, which reduced their mobility and their chance of survival (Holcomb 2010, p. 72). The recovery of the species from historical overharvest depends on successful reproduction and survival of young. The currently low population size does not allow for absorbing the impact of elevated nest predation. The degree of added threat from the newer, introduced nest predators is unknown, but we can conclude that the overall threat from nest predation is greater than it was in the past because of introduced predators such as feral hogs, and fire ants. The magnitude of nest predation by native and exotic species affected between 5-10 percent of the spatial extent of the species' range, as provided through expert elicitation (Service 2022, p. 28). Coupled with other threats, nest predation will continue to negatively affect the species' overall viability.

Climate change may also affect the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle to varying degrees, but the extent of impact is influenced by certain geographical factors, including proximity to the coast and latitudinal thermogradients. Climate change may affect the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle in several ways. First, the effects of decreased precipitation due to climate change will cause an increase in water withdrawal for human use ( i.e., potable water and agriculture irrigation). Additionally, reduced precipitation may directly and indirectly impact habitat, food, and water availability throughout the Suwannee River basin. Available water will be reduced as evaporation increases with continued warming temperatures. Furthermore, increased temperatures may have physiological impacts on sex ratios because these turtles have temperature-dependent sex determination, and higher temperatures may skew the sex ratio.

In the southeastern United States, temperatures are predicted to warm by 4 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) (2.2 to 4.4 degrees Celsius (°C)) by 2100 (Carter et al. 2014, p. 399). Temperature determines the sex of the Macrochelys developing embryos; certain nest temperatures result in primarily male hatchlings with females produced at temperatures of the two extremes of the intermediate male-producing temperatures. Females are produced when the nest temperatures are either cooler or warmer than the temperature threshold for male development. In order to develop mixed ratios of both sexes, fluctuating temperatures near the intermediate and extremes are ideal. In addition to temperature effects on sex ratio, temperature has been associated with nest viability, with highest viability in nests with intermediate sex ratios (produced at the male-producing intermediate temperature range with fluctuations of warmer or cooler temperatures for female-producing temperatures during the incubation period) and lowest in nests with female-biased sex ratios (Ewert and Jackson 1994, pp. 28-29). Thus, warming temperatures might lead to Suwannee alligator snapping turtle nests with strongly female-biased sex ratios. These skewed sex ratios may result in declining viability as mating behaviors are altered and other issues with unbalanced populations arise.

Collectively, these impacts from reduced precipitation and increased temperature would reduce the quality or availability of suitable habitat for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle (Thom et al. 2015, p. 126). Climate change impacts on the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle will likely act in concert with, and exacerbate, the impacts of other threats and stressors.

Other stressors that may affect Suwannee alligator snapping turtles include disease, nest parasites, contaminants from urban and agricultural runoff, and historical recreational harvest, but none of these stressors are having species-level impacts on the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. These stressors may act on individuals or have highly localized impacts. While each is relatively uncommon, these stressors may exacerbate the effects of other ongoing threats.

Additional information on these stressors acting on the species is available in the species' SSA report under “Factors Influencing Viability” (Service 2022, pp. 23-29). This information includes historical and current threats that have caused and are causing a decline in the species' viability. The primary threats currently acting on the species include illegal harvest, nest predation, and hook ingestion and entanglement due to bycatch associated with freshwater fishing. These primary threats are not only affecting the species now but are expected to continue impacting the species and were included in the species' future condition projections in the SSA report (Service 2022, pp. 41-56).

Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA; 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq. ) requires that an applicant for a Federal license or permit provide a certification that any discharges from the facility will not degrade water quality or violate water-quality standards, including State-established water quality standard requirements. Section 404 of the CWA establishes programs to regulate the discharge of dredged and fill material into waters of the United States.

Nationwide, regional general, or individual permits are issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill wetlands; to install, replace, or remove culverts; to install, repair, replace, or remove bridges; or to realign streams or water features. These permit types are summarized below.

  • Nationwide permits are for “minor” impacts to streams and wetlands, and do not require an intense review process. The impacts allowed under nationwide permits usually include projects affecting stream reaches less than 150 ft (45.72 m) in length, and wetland fill projects up to 0.50 acres (0.2 hectares). Mitigation is usually provided for the same type of wetland or stream impacted and is usually at a 2:1 ratio to offset losses. Start Printed Page 53517
  • Regional general permits are for various specific types of impacts that are common to a particular region; these permits will vary based on location in a certain region or State.
  • Individual permits are for the larger, higher impact, and more complex projects. These require a complex permit process with multi-agency input and involvement. Impacts in these types of permits are reviewed individually, and the compensatory mitigation chosen may vary depending on the project and types of impacts.

The CWA regulations, set forth in title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for the Environmental Protection Agency and in title 33 of the CFR for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ensure proper mitigation measures are applied to minimize the impact of activities occurring in streams and wetlands where the species occurs. These regulations contribute to the conservation of the species by minimizing or mitigating the effects of certain activities on Suwannee alligator snapping turtles and their habitat.

Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is included in the CITES Appendices under Macrochelys temminckii, based on the CITES standard nomenclature reference for turtles (Fritz & Havaš 2007, p. 172), which recognizes M. temminckii as the only taxon in the genus Macrochelys. This species was originally included in CITES Appendix III in 2006, when the genus was recognized as a single species, described as Macroclemys and synonymous with Macrochelys ( 70 FR 74700 ; December 16, 2005). At the 19th Conference of the Parties (November 2022), Macrochelys temminckii was transferred from Appendix III of CITES to Appendix II (CITES 2023, pp. 45-46). Because CITES only recognizes a single species of Macrochelys ( M. temminckii ), both taxa, the alligator snapping turtle and the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, are protected under CITES Appendix II regulations.

CITES requires permits for exports of Appendix II species, which are only issued when: (1) the Scientific Authority has advised that the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species; (2) the Management Authority is satisfied that the specimen(s) were legally acquired; and (3) the Management Authority is satisfied that any living specimens will be prepared and shipped so as to minimize the risk of injury, damage to health, or cruel treatment. Export numbers are also monitored by U.S. CITES Authorities and reported to CITES annually. Whenever a Scientific Authority determines that the export of specimens of any such species should be limited in order to maintain that species throughout its range at a level consistent with its role in the ecosystems in which it occurs and well above the level at which that species might become eligible for inclusion in Appendix I, the Scientific Authority shall advise the appropriate Management Authority of suitable measures to be taken to limit the grant of export permits for specimens of that species.These requirements help regulate and document legal, international trade; they further ensure that specimens entering international trade are acquired legally, and that the trade of the species is biologically sustainable for, and will not be detrimental to the survival of, the species. Thus, Appendix II regulations complement and lend additional support to State wildlife agencies in their efforts to regulate and manage these species, improve data gathering to increase knowledge of trade in the species, and strengthen State and Federal wildlife enforcement activities to prevent poaching and illegal trade.

When this taxon was included in CITES Appendix III, reporting of annual exports was also required. While CITES reporting indicates the number of turtles exported with other relevant data, in the past, the information required for the export reports has not always accurately identified the source stock of the exported turtle(s). Most alligator snapping turtles that were exported between 2005 and 2018 were identified as “wild” individuals; however, many were likely from farmed parental stock (Service 2018, entire). The discrepancy in reporting the actual source of the internationally exported turtles has not allowed us to easily evaluate the impact of export on Suwannee alligator snapping turtles. Inclusion in Appendix II, unlike Appendix III, requires an evaluation that the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species, which will help better assess the impact of export.

Approximately 5 percent of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle's range includes areas within two National Wildlife Refuges (NWR), Okefenokee in Georgia and Lower Suwannee in Florida. These NWRs are managed by the Service to conserve native wildlife species and their habitats and are protected from future development. Both NWRs have comprehensive conservation plans (CCP) that ensure each NWR is managed to fulfill the purpose(s) for which it was established.

Okefenokee NWR is at the northernmost proximity of the species' range and is a freshwater wetland. There are only a few anecdotal reports of the species occurring within Okefenokee NWR. There have been no systematic surveys conducted within the swamp, so the extent of use by the species of that area has not yet been documented. However, the paucity of documented and anecdotal records from the surrounding areas would indicate that the species is not common or widespread at this location.

The Okefenokee NWR CCP includes a strategy within the wildlife management goal to “develop and implement surveys to determine distribution and population status of amphibians and reptiles, particularly those species that are threatened, endangered, or species of special concern.” The CCP also includes an objective to “identify factors influencing declines in the refuge's fishery by examining water chemistry, groundwater withdrawals, water quality, pH levels, invertebrate populations, and the physical environment” (Service 2006, pp. 84-86). This knowledge would clearly benefit management of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle.

The Lower Suwannee NWR is at the mouth of the Suwannee River where it feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. Twenty miles of the Suwannee River is within the refuge and is suitable habitat for Suwannee alligator snapping turtles, albeit less so as salinity increases the closer the river gets to the Gulf of Mexico. The species is considered common within the refuge, and nesting has been confirmed; however, the species is not commonly seen (due to their ability to burrow into the river or creek banks, or to sit on the bottom of the river and stay submerged until surfacing for air is needed), and cryptic coloration when submerged makes detection of the species very difficult (Woodward 2021, pers. comm.). The Lower Suwannee NWR CCP includes management actions that may benefit the species and provides goals for wildlife, habitat, and landscape management. The CCP's objectives and strategies provide that the refuge monitor and manage wildlife populations, manage the habitats for endangered and threatened species and species of special concern in the State of Florida, and promote interagency and private landowner cooperation (Service 2001, pp. 11-22). The Lower Suwannee River NWR provides logistical, Start Printed Page 53518 operational, in-kind, and financial support to FWC's Suwannee alligator snapping turtle team to conduct surveys on the refuge.

Moody Air Force Base (Base) is near Valdosta, Georgia, and has many freshwater ponds and a large lake, Mission Lake, that drains into the Grand Bay system. Suwannee alligator snapping turtles do not commonly occur on the Base, but they are occasionally found. The Base's integrated natural resources management plan (INRMP) describes Macrochelys as occurring on the Base; however, there are no management activities described directly for the species in the INRMP. The Department of Defense ensures INRMPs are consistent with the Sikes Act Improvement Act of 1997, as amended through 2010 ( 16 U.S.C. 670 et seq. ), which requires the preparation, implementation, update, and review of an INRMP for each military installation in the United States and its territories with significant natural resources.

The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is protected by State law in both Florida and Georgia as a threatened species. Florida Administrative Code rule 68A-27.003 makes it illegal to take, possess, or sell (except as specifically permitted or authorized) species listed as federally designated endangered or threatened species and State-designated threatened species; this includes the species' parts, their nests, and their eggs. Since the original 2011 biological status review for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle (FWC 2011, entire), two species of alligator snapping turtle were differentiated based upon genetic and skeletal differences (Thomas 2014, entire), necessitating new biological status reviews of both species. During FWC's 2017 biological assessment of Macrochelys, the biological review group determined that M. suwanniensis was distinct and warranted designation as State-threatened based upon International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria (Enge et al. 2017. p. 3).

Florida developed a species action plan (SAP) that includes all Macrochelys spp. due to their similarity in appearance, vulnerability to deliberate human take, incidental take with fishing gear, pollution, riverine habitat alteration, and nest predation (FWC 2018, p. iii). The objectives of the SAP include habitat conservation and management, population management, monitoring and research, rule and permitting intent, law enforcement, incentives and influencing, education and outreach, and coordination with other entities (FWC 2018, pp. 10-27). Implementation of the Macrochelys spp. SAP is ongoing (FWC 2018, entire). FWC has established a team of biologists who continue to study the species to better understand the species and population trends.

Both Macrochelys suwanniensis and M. temminckii are found in Georgia, but their ranges do not overlap. Georgia listed M. temminckii as threatened in 1992, which at the time included both species, and continues to cover both species as threatened. State law protects threatened animal species by prohibiting their harassment, capture, killing, sale, and purchase, as well as the destruction of their habitat on public lands (Georgia Administrative Code, rule 391-4-10-.06). In the State's wildlife action plan, the Department of Natural Resources indicates they intend to conduct genetic, taxonomic, and reproductive studies of high-priority species (GDNR 2015, p. D-5). Current State regulations are intended to minimize the impact of poaching and also contribute to the conservation of the species through public outreach.

Structural features within the water are important components of the habitat for Suwannee alligator snapping turtles. Submerged and partially submerged vegetation provide feeding and sheltering areas for all age classes. The structural diversity and channel stabilization created by instream woody debris provides essential habitat for spawning and rearing aquatic species (Bilby 1984, p. 609; Bisson et al. 1987, p. 143). Snag or woody habitat was reported as the major stable substrate in southeastern Coastal Plain sandy-bottom streams and a site of high invertebrate diversity and productivity (Wallace and Benke 1984, p. 1651). Wood enhances the ability of a river or stream ecosystem to use the nutrient and energy inputs and has a major influence on the hydrodynamic behavior of the river (Wallace and Benke 1984, p. 1643). One component of this woody habitat is deadhead logs, which are sunken timbers from historical logging operations. Deadhead logging is the removal of submerged cut timber from a river or creek bed and banks. However, current State regulations minimize the impact of deadhead logging on the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. Florida allows deadhead logging only with proper permits from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; this State agency assesses the proposed activity's impacts on wildlife before issuing a permit. Further, the State of Florida prohibits deadhead logging in some of the waterways in the species' range. Georgia is not currently processing permits; therefore, deadhead logging is not currently being permitted in any of Georgia's waterways.

A buffer such as a strip of trees, plants, or grass along a stream or wetland naturally filters out dirt and pollution from rainwater runoff before it enters rivers, streams, wetlands, and marshes. This vegetation not only serves as a filter for the aquatic system, but the riparian cover influences microhabitat conditions such as in-stream water temperature and dissolved oxygen levels. These habitat conditions not only influence the distribution and abundance of alligator snapping turtle prey species but also directly affect Suwannee alligator snapping turtles. Moderate temperatures and sufficient dissolved oxygen levels allow the turtles to remain stationary on the stream bottom for longer periods, increasing their ambush foraging opportunities. Loss of riparian vegetation and canopy cover result in increased solar radiation, elevation of stream temperatures, loss of allochthonous (organic material originating from outside the channel) food material, and removal of submerged root systems that provide habitat for alligator snapping turtle prey species (Allan 2004, pp. 266-267).

The Georgia Erosion and Sediment Control Act of 1975 restricts disturbance and trimming of vegetation within a 25-ft (7.62-m) buffer adjacent to creeks, streams, rivers, saltwater marshes, and most lakes and ponds, and the Georgia Planning Act of 1989 requires some local governments to adopt a 100-ft (30.48-m) buffer. Georgia also has a non-point water pollution source management program under which the State established and updates a nonpoint source management plan; this plan sets long-term goals and short-term activities for the State, partners, and stakeholders to address non-point source pollution. Although not focused on buffers per se, the Florida Surface Water Improvement and Management Act of 1987 addresses Statewide non-point source pollution impacts to waterbodies on a landscape scale and partners with Federal, State, and local governments, and the private sector to restore damaged ecosystems and prevent pollution from storm water runoff. These State laws provide Start Printed Page 53519 riparian protections and promote water quality, which protect potential nesting areas for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle.

Water conservation measures restricting lawn and landscaping irrigation can benefit the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle by limiting water withdrawal, which directly benefits the turtle through maintaining available habitat and supporting habitat for prey species, and by reducing runoff of fertilizers and other turf management chemicals that could disrupt or alter water chemistry in the streams. The SRWMD manages the water and other related resources within the range of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle including the Suwannee, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Santa Fe, and Ichetucknee Rivers within Florida. The agency monitors the water quantity and quality by regular testing and reporting. It also implements water-use restrictions to conserve freshwater resources of springs and rivers within the SRWMD. Unnecessary water use is discouraged, and landscape irrigation restrictions are implemented as needed, such as limiting watering to twice per week based on district water conservation measures that apply to residential landscaping, public or commercial recreation areas, and businesses that are not regulated by a district-issued water use permit (SRWMD 2021, unpaginated). Landscape irrigation accounts for the largest percentage of household water use in the State of Florida. Mandatory lawn and landscape watering measures are in effect throughout the SRWMD. These restrictions contribute to maintaining healthy groundwater level and flows.

The current condition for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle considers the current abundance, current threats, and current conservation actions in the context of what is known about the species' historical range. In order to determine species-specific population and habitat factors along with threats and conservation actions influencing the species, expert elicitation was used in the absence of available related information. To describe Suwannee alligator snapping turtle's current resiliency, redundancy, and representation, we assessed the species as a single population, because there is evidence that the turtles may move between the mouths of the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers in Florida. The entire species is estimated to have an abundance of 2,000 turtles across its entire range in Georgia and Florida (Service 2022, p. 34).

The primary threats currently acting on the species include illegal harvest, nest predation, and hook ingestion and entanglement due to bycatch associated with freshwater fishing. Other stressors acting on the species include historical commercial and recreational harvest, habitat alteration and degradation, and the effects of climate change. The species is State-listed as threatened in both Florida and Georgia. When evaluating range expansion or constriction, recent surveys have confirmed minimal change in the known, limited historical range.

The resiliency of the single Suwannee alligator snapping turtle population is described according to its abundance, threats, and range expansion or contraction. Current resilience was assessed as current abundance, along with information about current threats, conservation actions, and distribution serving as auxiliary information about the causes and effects of current versus historical abundances. There is little information with which to make rigorous comparisons between current and historical abundances; however, population depletions historically occurred for consumption and cumulated through the 1970s, when turtles and turtle meat were exported regionally for commercial use. Information about the magnitude of the changes in abundance over time comes from anecdotal observations by trappers (Pritchard 1989, pp. 74, 76, 80, 83). The historical large-scale removal of large, reproductive turtles from the population for commercial harvest continues to affect the species and its ability to rebound. The species is described as a single population with an estimated abundance of 2,000 turtles across most of its historical range. As a result of the impacts from historical and ongoing threats, as described above, the population size has been reduced from historical levels. This decline has impacted the current ability of the species to withstand environmental stochasticity. Additional information regarding current condition descriptions is included in the SSA report (Service 2022, pp. 30-40).

The home range for Suwannee alligator snapping turtles has been reported between 780 ft (243 m) and 6,604 ft (2,013 m) (Thomas 2014, pp. 41-42). Turtles are not confined to any part of their range as long as there are no physical barriers; while this species is aquatic with the exception of nesting, these turtles are capable of moving across land if necessary, as conditions become unsuitable or resources are diminished. When describing the species' representation, for the purposes of the SSA in evaluating the species' current and future viability, the species consists of a single representative unit. Representation is used to describe the species' ability to withstand environmental changes over time, or the species' adaptive capacity. We describe the species in terms of its adaptive capacity with its ability to acclimate to environmental stressors (Service 2022, pp. 37-39). We considered life-history attributes and assessed the species' propensity to respond to chronic environmental influences (Thurman et al. 2020, entire). The species has a type 3 survivorship curve, meaning only a few individuals reach maturity with adults usually having a long life span. This type of survivorship limits the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle to an overall low to moderate adaptive capacity in the life-history and demographic attributes. The high rating of its fecundity and parity is overshadowed by the low rate of hatchling survivorship to maturity. The low level of parental investment allows females to nest and resume feeding and sheltering activities with minimal impacts to their health, thus allowing for a high adaptive capacity for this attribute. The species has a moderate to high adaptive capacity in the distribution, movement, evolutionary potential, ecological role, and abiotic niche attributes. The life history and demographic attributes used in determining the species' adaptive capacity have the greatest influence on the species' ability to respond to changes in its physical and biological environments over time. Therefore, representation will continue to be low to moderate.

The best available science regarding the species indicates there is no genetic variation within the species' single population across the species' range that would allow for delineating additional representative units.

The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle's redundancy is likewise limited to the single population, with an estimated abundance of 2,000 turtles, across its range. Redundancy is related to a species' response to a catastrophic event. While there is only a single population, it is widely distributed across the historical range; therefore, the chance of a catastrophic event affecting the entire species is very low.

In summary, the overall current condition of the species' viability is affected by the residual effects of historical overharvest, historical and Start Printed Page 53520 ongoing impacts from recreational fishing, including incidental limb line/bush hook take and bycatch, and from hook ingestion, illegal harvest, habitat alteration, nest predation, and the species' life history ( i.e., low annual recruitment and delayed sexual maturity). Because of these threats, and particularly the legacy effects of historical harvest, the overall current condition is a single population with an estimated abundance of 2,000 turtles across most of the species' historical range. The species' resiliency is likely lower than it was historically as a result of the loss of reproductive females and the species' life history (long-lived, late age to sexual maturity, low intrinsic growth rate). However, the species was not well-studied historically, so there is little information (anecdotal observations) with which to make comparisons between historical and current abundance estimates. Redundancy and representation are limited, respectively, since the species is considered a single population with little genetic variability and there are no physical barriers to movement.

The future condition of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is described in detail in the SSA report (Service 2022, pp. 41-56). When evaluating the species' future viability, we consider the current condition of the species and the threats acting on the species to develop a model to determine future trends of species' estimated abundance. We applied six plausible scenarios that factored in the estimated abundance and threats acting on the species to project the future resiliency of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle (see table, below). Three scenarios consider conservation actions to be applied, while the remaining three scenarios project conditions with no conservation actions. Conservation actions that could decrease the spatial extent of habitat threats include but are not limited to: increased enforcement of state laws or law enforcement presence to reduce poaching or bycatch on illegally set trot or limb lines, prohibited recreational fishing or certain gear ( e.g., trotlines, hoopnets) in the Suwanee River basin, and management actions that reduce the densities of nest predators. In addition to habitat modification, long term female population augmentation can be implemented by head-starting and captive breeding programs by Federal, State, and non-governmental organizations. The actual amount that any of these actions would influence the prevalence of threats will depend on factors like the time, money, personnel, and conservation partners available, but we selected a 25 percent reduction in the spatial extent of threats to explore how much a change of that amount affected future population dynamics (Service 2022, pp. 37-38).

To assess future conditions and the viability of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, we constructed a female-only, stage-structured matrix population model to project the population dynamics over 50 years to encompass a two-generation period for the species and the reliability in predicting the response to the threats in that time frame. Species experts identified five primary threats that were likely to reduce stage-specific survival probabilities: commercial fishing bycatch (includes entanglement, drowning, or otherwise dying from interaction with fishing gear; influencing hatchling, juvenile, and adult survival), recreational fishing bycatch (has the same impacts as commercial fishing bycatch; influenced juvenile and adult survival), hook ingestion (surviving a bycatch event but enduring the lingering effects of an ingested hook; influenced juvenile and adult survival), illegal collection ( i.e., poaching; influenced hatchling, juvenile, and adult survival), and subsidized nest predators (influenced nest survival) with two having the greatest impact (illegal harvest and nest predation). The subsidized nest predator threat reflects additional nest depredation beyond what would be expected from common nest mesopredators ( e.g., raccoons and opossums), with fire ants ( Solenopsis spp.) being the primary nest predator.

We used the best available information from the literature to provide values for the population matrix and elicited data from species experts to quantify stage-specific initial abundance, the spatial extent of threats, and threat-specific percent reductions to survival. To account for potential uncertainty in the effects of each threat, the six future scenarios were divided along a spectrum: threat-induced reductions to survival were decreased by 25 percent, were unaltered, or were increased by 25 percent. To simulate conservation actions, the spatial extent of each threat was either left the same or reduced by 25 percent (see table, below). The 25 percent was selected using expert input and included a logical extent in which we would expect to see evident impacts to the population. We used a fully stochastic projection model that accounts for uncertainty in demographic parameters to predict future conditions of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle units under the six different scenarios. We then used the model output to predict the probability of extinction and quasi-extinction. In the model, quasi-extinction is defined as the point in time at which the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle population declined to less than 5 percent of the starting abundance (females only). Time to quasi-extinction varied across scenarios, but in general, the Suwannee River basin is likely to reach this in 32-42 years (Service 2022, p. 46).

Table 1—Six Future Scenarios Modeled for the Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtle's Single Population With Magnitude of Threat and Conservation Absent/Present. Scenario Names Are Given in Quotation Marks

Threat magnitudeConservation absent  Conservation present  Decreased Impact of threats: Impact of threats: Expert-Elicited  Impact of threats: Impact of threats: Increased Impact of threats: Impact of threats:  The spatial extent of threats for the Conservation Absent scenarios were expert-elicited.  The spatial extent of threats for the Conservation Present scenarios were reduced by 25 percent.  Experts throughout the range of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle were elicited for their expert, professional opinion on the threats to the species.

Suwannee alligator snapping turtle abundance was predicted to decline over the next 50 years in all six scenarios. The single population's resiliency measure also declined as abundance declined. Given the high uncertainties parameterized in the model, the species does not have a high likelihood of extinction in the basin within 50 years, however the loss of 95 percent of the adult female abundance is expected to occur (quasi-extinction) Resiliency continues to decline in all scenarios.

Future representation for Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is expected to decline as the adaptive capacity for the distribution, movement, evolutionary potential, ecological role, and abiotic ecological attributes may not provide the species with the capacity to offset the low to moderate life history and demography complexes. These two attribute categories directly impact reproduction and the ability to maintain or to grow the population. Representation is further reduced by the continued impacts of human activities ( e.g., unattended fishing gear and reduced water flow) and the probability of low numbers of adult females within the population. (Service 2022, p. 48).

Future redundancy for Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is expected to decline over the next 50 years. Where the species persists in the future, they are predicted to be rare and not found in resilient groupings. The addition of conservation actions, or different assumptions about the impact of threats on the species' demography may alter the time to quasi- extinction by about a decade at most, typically less. No scenarios resulted in stable or increasing population within the Suwannee River basin (Service 2022, p. 48).

We note that, by using the SSA framework to guide our analysis of the scientific information documented in the SSA report, we have analyzed the cumulative effects of identified threats and conservation actions on the species. To assess the current and future condition of the species, we evaluate the effects of all the relevant factors that may be influencing the species, including threats and conservation efforts. Because the SSA framework considers not just the presence of the factors, but to what degree they collectively influence risk to the entire species, our assessment integrates the cumulative effects of the factors and replaces a standalone cumulative effects analysis.

Section 4 of the Act ( 16 U.S.C. 1533 ) and its implementing regulations ( 50 CFR part 424 ) set forth the procedures for determining whether a species meets the definition of an endangered species or a threatened species. The Act defines an “endangered species” as a species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and a “threatened species” as a species likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The Act requires that we determine whether a species meets the definition of endangered species or threatened species because of any of the following factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.

After evaluating threats to the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle and assessing the cumulative effect of the threats under the Act's section 4(a)(1) factors, we determined that the historical and ongoing threats that are acting on the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle include illegal harvest and collection (Factor B), nest predation (Factor C), and hook ingestion and entanglement due to bycatch associated with freshwater fishing (Factor E). While historical activities that included removal of turtles for consumption through recreational and commercial harvest (Factor B) continue to suppress the viability of the species despite current harvest prohibitions, the species is currently well-distributed across most of its historical range. There are currently about 2,000 individuals distributed throughout the entire species' range across southern Georgia and northern Florida in the Suwannee River basin (Service 2022, p. 27).

The magnitude of the threats acting on the species were obtained through expert elicitation. Incidental hooking ( i.e., recreational trot and limb lines, fishing tackle, etc.) affects between 30-75 percent of the species. Illegal harvest or poaching across the basin ranges from 20-55 percent. Nest predation by native and exotic species affected between 5-10 percent of the spatial extent of the species' range (Service 2022, p. 28). Due to the delayed age of sexual maturity and a generation time of about 28 years, the species is slow to recover from historical harvest pressures that reduced the species' viability. As the genus was recently split, the specific impact of large-scale harvest on Suwannee alligator snapping turtles is unknown; however, for Macrochelys temminckii, 22 years after M. temminckii commercial harvest ended in Georgia, surveys conducted during 2014 and 2015 in Georgia's Flint River revealed no significant change in abundance since 1989 (King et al. 2016, entire). We expect commercial harvest had a similar impact on the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle as it did on the alligator snapping turtle. Thus, despite prohibition of legal harvest of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle in Georgia and Florida, the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle population will similarly be slow to recover.

Alligator snapping turtle populations experienced severe depletion in the past when these turtles were heavily harvested, primarily for consumption, prior to prohibitions (Factor B). This past large-scale removal of large, adult turtles continues to affect the current demographics because the species has a relatively long lifespan, late age to maturity, and low fecundity with production of a single clutch every 1 to 2 years. The current recruitment rate has declined because of past commercial harvest practices, which caused the large-scale loss of adult females that have the highest reproductive potential; however, successful reproduction is occurring. The species is not currently impacted by commercial harvest; however, the species' resiliency is lower than it was historically as a result of the loss of reproductive females, low juvenile survival, and the species' life-history traits (long-lived, late age to sexual maturity, low intrinsic growth rate). The current estimated population size of 2,000 turtles provides sufficient contribution to the species' current viability through successful reproduction, albeit at a lower recruitment rate than historically. Thus, after assessing the best available information, we conclude that the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all of its range.

When evaluating the future viability of the species to determine whether the species may become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout its range, we found that the threats currently acting on the species are expected to continue across its range into the future, resulting in greater reduction of the number and distribution of reproductive individuals. Start Printed Page 53522 We determined the appropriate timeframe for assessing whether this species is likely to become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future is 50 years. Based on our knowledge of the species' life history and the threats acting on the species, this 50-year timeframe provides a period for which we can make reasonably reliable predictions about the threats to the species and the species' response to those threats. Additional information regarding the model and future scenarios is available under “Future Conditions” in the SSA report (Service 2022, pp. 51-56).

This species is highly dependent upon adult female survival to maintain viable populations. Existing and ongoing threats affecting adult female survival are projected to reduce recruitment to an extent that the single population will continue to decline in the foreseeable future. While there is uncertainty regarding the rate at which population declines will occur, these threats are projected to drive the species towards extinction unless reduced.

A key statutory difference between a threatened and an endangered species is the timing of when a species may be in danger of extinction. As described above, the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is not in danger of extinction throughout its range at this time. However, the best available information shows that the species' viability is expected to decline with quasi-extinction projected to occur within the next 50 years under all modeled future scenarios (Service 2022, p. 41). Based on modeling results, which address uncertainty regarding the extent and severity of threats, resiliency is expected to decline under all scenarios. Regardless of the scenario, the projected loss of resiliency with limited representation and redundancy, across the range of the species will place the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle at risk of extinction across all of its range due to the inability of this species to maintain a viable population in the foreseeable future.

Recreational harvest of Macrochelys spp. was prohibited in Georgia and Florida, in 1992 and 2009, respectively, and State-listed as threatened in Georgia (in 1992) and Florida (in 2018). Based on the projection of future conditions, these threats will cause about a 20-year shift in the species' resiliency, indicating these factors will act faster on the generations in the foreseeable future.

Despite the implementation of the conservation actions described earlier in this final rule, the lag in the species' response to historical over-harvesting indicates other factors may be acting on the species or additional conservation actions are needed. The future conditions projections, which include three conservation-based scenarios, based on the female-only matrix population model indicates a 95 percent decline in less than 50 years under the most optimistic scenario. Therefore, given the future projections in the model, the species is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future. Thus, after assessing the best available information, we conclude that Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range.

Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may warrant listing if it is in danger of extinction or likely to become so within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The court in Center for Biological Diversity v. Everson, 435 F. Supp. 3d 69 (D.D.C. 2020) ( Everson ), vacated the provision of the Final Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase “Significant Portion of Its Range” in the Endangered Species Act's Definitions of “Endangered Species” and “Threatened Species” (Final Policy; 79 FR 37578 ; July 1, 2014) that provided if the Services determine that a species is threatened throughout all of its range, the Services will not analyze whether the species is endangered in a significant portion of its range.

Therefore, we proceed to evaluating whether the species is endangered in a significant portion of its range—that is, whether there is any portion of the species' range for which both (1) the portion is significant; and (2) the species is in danger of extinction in that portion. Depending on the case, it might be more efficient for us to address the “significance” question or the “status” question first. We can choose to address either question first. Regardless of which question we address first, if we reach a negative answer with respect to the first question that we address, we do not need to evaluate the other question for that portion of the species' range.

Following the court's holding in Everson, we now consider whether there are any significant portions of the species' range where the species is in danger of extinction now ( i.e., endangered). In undertaking this analysis for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, we choose to address the status question first. We consider information pertaining to the geographical distribution of both the species and the threats that the species faces to identify any portions of the range where the species is endangered.

We evaluated the range of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle to determine if the species is in danger of extinction now in any portion of its range.The range of a species can theoretically be divided into portions in an infinite number of ways. We focused our analysis on portions of the species' range that may meet the Act's definition of an endangered species. For the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, we considered whether the threats to or their effects on the species are greater in any biologically meaningful portion of the species' range than in other portions such that the species is in danger of extinction now in that portion.

We examined the following threats: illegal harvest (poaching), bycatch, habitat alteration, nest predation, and climate change, including cumulative threats. We also considered the cumulative effects acting on the species with additional stressors such as disease, parasites, and contaminants. Due to the species' low population size due to historical overharvest and limited redundancy and representation, we find that additional stressors such as disease, parasites, and contaminants would add to the ongoing impacts to the species from ongoing threats further negatively affecting the species' viability.

In the current condition analysis, as described in the SSA report, expert elicitation values were provided to better understand the occurrence of the threats and the collective amount of the species' range affected (Service 2022, pp. 33-35). The impact of the threats was estimated as a proxy for the magnitude of the threats in terms of the amount of the entire species' range affected; these estimates do not indicate the spatial distribution of the threats. Rather, they estimate the percentages of the total amount of the species' range affected by each threat noted. Bycatch from incidental hooking affects 30-75 percent of the species' range, illegal harvest affects 20-55 percent of the species' range, and nest predation affects 5-10 percent of the species' range; however, the impact of each threat is spread out and not concentrated in a manner that is causing more significant declines in any particular portion such that any portion is likely to have a different status. Therefore, we found no portion of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle's range where threats are impacting individuals differently from how they are affecting the species elsewhere in its range, or where the biological condition Start Printed Page 53523 of the species differs from its condition elsewhere in its range such that the status of the species in that portion differs from any other portion of the species' range.

Therefore, no portion of the species' range provides a basis for determining that the species is in danger of extinction in a significant portion of its range, and we determine that the species is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range. This does not conflict with the courts' holdings in Desert Survivors v. U.S. Department of the Interior, 321 F. Supp. 3d 1011, 1070-74 (N.D. Cal. 2018) and Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell, 248 F. Supp. 3d 946, 959 (D. Ariz. 2017) because, in reaching this conclusion, we did not apply the aspects of the Final Policy, including the definition of “significant” that those court decisions held to be invalid.

Our review of the best scientific and commercial data available indicates that the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle meets the Act's definition of a threatened species. Therefore, we are listing the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle as a threatened species in accordance with sections 3(20) and 4(a)(1) of the Act.

Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or threatened species under the Act include recognition as a listed species, planning and implementation of recovery actions, requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies, foreign governments, private organizations, and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the States and other countries and calls for recovery actions to be carried out for listed species. The protection required by Federal agencies, including the Service, and the prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.

The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of the Act. Section 4(f) of the Act calls for the Service to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and threatened species. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning components of their ecosystems.

The recovery planning process begins with development of a recovery outline made available to the public soon after a final listing determination. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation of urgent recovery actions while a recovery plan is being developed. Recovery teams (composed of species experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and stakeholders) may be established to develop and implement recovery plans. The recovery planning process involves the identification of actions that are necessary to halt and reverse the species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and recovery. The recovery plan identifies recovery criteria for review of when a species may be ready for reclassification from endangered to threatened (“downlisting”) or removal from protected status (“delisting”), and methods for monitoring recovery progress. Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of implementing recovery tasks. Revisions of the plan may be done to address continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive information becomes available. When completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, and the final recovery plan will be available on our website ( https://ecos.fws.gov/​ecp/​species/​10891 ), or from our Florida Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT ).

Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal agencies, States, Tribes, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat restoration of native vegetation, research, captive propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal lands.

Once this species is listed, funding for recovery actions will be available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal landowners, the academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the States of Florida and Georgia will be eligible for Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the protection or recovery of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. Information on our grant programs that are available to aid species recovery can be found at https://www.fws.gov/​service/​financial-assistance .

Please let us know if you are interested in participating in recovery efforts for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. Additionally, we invite you to submit any new information on this species whenever it becomes available and any information you may have for recovery planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT ).

Section 7 of the Act is titled Interagency Cooperation and mandates all Federal action agencies to use their existing authorities to further the conservation purposes of the Act and to ensure that their actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or adversely modify critical habitat. Regulations implementing section 7 are codified at 50 CFR part 402 .

Section 7(a)(2) states that each Federal action agency shall, in consultation with the Secretary, ensure that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. Each Federal agency shall review its action at the earliest possible time to determine whether it may affect listed species or critical habitat. If a determination is made that the action may affect listed species or critical habitat, formal consultation is required ( 50 CFR 402.14(a) ), unless the Service concurs in writing that the action is not likely to adversely affect listed species or critical habitat. At the end of a formal consultation, the Service issues a biological opinion, containing its determination of whether the Federal action is likely to result in jeopardy or adverse modification.

Examples of discretionary actions for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle that may be subject to consultation procedures under section 7 are land management or other landscape-altering activities on Federal lands administered by the Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Department of Defense (Moody Air Force Base) as well as actions on State, Tribal, local, or private lands that require a Federal permit (such as a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under section 404 of the Clean Water Act ( 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq. ) or a permit from the Service under Start Printed Page 53524 section 10 of the Act) or that involve some other Federal action (such as funding from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency). Federal actions not affecting listed species or critical habitat—and actions on State, Tribal, local, or private lands that are not federally funded, authorized, or carried out by a Federal agency—do not require section 7 consultation. Federal agencies should coordinate with the local Service Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT ) with any specific questions on section 7 consultation and conference requirements.

It is the policy of the Services, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 ( 59 FR 34272 ), to identify to the extent known at the time a species is listed, specific activities that will not be considered likely to result in violation of section 9 of the Act. To the extent possible, activities that will be considered likely to result in violation will also be identified in as specific a manner as possible. The intent of this policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of the species. Although most of the prohibitions in section 9 of the Act apply to endangered species, sections 9(a)(1)(G) and 9(a)(2)(E) of the Act prohibit the violation of any regulation under section 4(d) pertaining to any threatened species of fish or wildlife, or threatened species of plant, respectively. Section 4(d) of the Act directs the Secretary to promulgate protective regulations that are necessary and advisable for the conservation of threatened species. As a result, we interpret our policy to mean that, when we list a species as a threatened species, to the extent possible, we identify activities that will or will not be considered likely to result in violation of the protective regulations under section 4(d) for that species.

Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Florida Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT ).

Section 4(d) of the Act contains two sentences. The first sentence states that the Secretary shall issue such regulations as she deems necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of species listed as threatened species. Conservation is defined in the Act to mean the use of all methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered species or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Additionally, the second sentence of section 4(d) of the Act states that the Secretary may by regulation prohibit with respect to any threatened species any act prohibited under section 9(a)(1), in the case of fish or wildlife, or section 9(a)(2), in the case of plants. With these two sentences in section 4(d), Congress delegated broad authority to the Secretary to determine what protections would be necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of threatened species, and even broader authority to put in place any of the section 9 prohibitions, for a given species.

The courts have recognized the extent of the Secretary's discretion under this standard to develop rules that are appropriate for the conservation of a species. For example, courts have upheld, as a valid exercise of agency authority, rules developed under section 4(d) that included limited prohibitions against takings (see Alsea Valley Alliance v. Lautenbacher, 2007 WL 2344927 (D. Or. 2007); Washington Environmental Council v. National Marine Fisheries Service, 2002 WL 511479 (W.D. Wash. 2002)). Courts have also upheld 4(d) rules that do not address all of the threats a species faces (see State of Louisiana v. Verity, 853 F.2d 322 (5th Cir. 1988)). As noted in the legislative history when the Act was initially enacted, “once an animal is on the threatened list, the Secretary has an almost infinite number of options available to [her] with regard to the permitted activities for those species. [She] may, for example, permit taking, but not importation of such species, or [s]he may choose to forbid both taking and importation but allow the transportation of such species” (H.R. Rep. No. 412, 93rd Cong., 1st Sess. 1973).

The provisions of this species' protective regulations under section 4(d) of the Act are one of many tools that we will use to promote the conservation of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. Nothing in 4(d) rules change in any way the recovery planning provisions of section 4(f) of the Act, the consultation requirements under section 7 of the Act, or the ability of the Service to enter into partnerships for the management and protection of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. As mentioned previously in Available Conservation Measures, Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the Service, to ensure that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species. These requirements are the same for a threatened species regardless of what is included in its 4(d) rule.

Section 7 consultation is required for Federal actions that “may affect” a listed species regardless of whether take caused by the activity is prohibited or excepted by a 4(d) rule (“blanket rule” or species-specific 4(d) rule). A 4(d) rule does not change the process and criteria for informal or formal consultations and does not alter the analytical process used for biological opinions or concurrence letters. For example, as with an endangered species, if a Federal agency determines that an action is “not likely to adversely affect” a threatened species, this will require the Service's written concurrence ( 50 CFR 402.13(c) . Similarly, if a Federal agency determines that an action is “likely to adversely affect” a threatened species, the action will require formal consultation and the formulation of a biological opinion ( 50 CFR 402.14(a) ). Because consultation obligations and processes are unaffected by 4(d) rules, we may consider developing tools to streamline future intra-Service and inter-Agency consultations for actions that result in forms of take that are not prohibited by the 4(d) rule (but that still require consultation). These tools may include consultation guidance, Information for Planning and Consultation (IPaC) effects determination keys, template language for biological opinions, or programmatic consultations.

Exercising the Secretary's authority under section 4(d) of the Act, we have developed a rule that is designed to address the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle's conservation needs. As discussed previously in Summary of Biological Status and Threats, we have concluded that the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future primarily due to illegal harvest (poaching), nest predation, and bycatch-related incidents of hook ingestion and entanglement due recreational fishing of freshwater fish. There are other activities that could affect the species and its habitat if they occur in areas occupied by the species, such as impacts to water quality and quantity. Start Printed Page 53525

Due to the life-history characteristics of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, specifically delayed maturity, long generation times, and relatively low reproductive output, this species cannot sustain significant collection from the wild, especially of adult females (Reed et al. 2002, pp. 8-12). An adult female harvest rate of more than 2 percent per year is considered unsustainable, and harvest of this magnitude or greater will result in significant local population declines (Reed et al. 2002, p. 9). Although both Florida and Georgia prohibit commercial and recreational harvest of Suwannee alligator snapping turtles, due to the species' demography, the overall population has not recovered from prior extensive loss of individuals due to past over-exploitation.

Habitat alteration is also a concern for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, as the species is endemic to the Suwannee River basin and its river ecosystems, including tributary waterbodies and associated wetland habitats ( e.g., swamps, lakes, reservoirs, etc.), where structure ( e.g., tree root masses, stumps, submerged trees, etc.) and a high percentage of canopy cover is more often selected over open water (Howey and Dinkelacker 2009, p. 589). Suwannee alligator snapping turtles spend the majority of their time in aquatic habitat; overland movements are generally restricted to nesting females and juveniles moving from the nest to water (Reed et al. 2002, p. 5). The primary causes for habitat alteration include actions that change hydrologic conditions to the extent that dispersal and genetic interchange are impeded.

Some examples of activities that may alter the habitat include dredging, deadhead logging, clearing and snagging, removal of riparian cover, channelization, in-stream activities that result in stream bank erosion and siltation ( e.g., stream crossings, bridge replacements, flood control structures, etc.), and changes in land use within the riparian zone of waterbodies ( e.g., clearing land for agriculture). Deadhead logs and fallen riparian woody debris provide refugia during low-water periods (Enge et al. 2014, p. 40), resting areas for all life stages (Ewert et al. 2006, p. 62), and important feeding areas for hatchlings and juveniles. The species' habitat needs concentrate around a freshwater ecosystem that supplies both shallower water for hatchlings and juveniles and deeper water for adults, with associated forested habitat that is free from inundation for nesting and that provides structure within the waterbody.

Regulating certain activities and take associated with other activities under this 4(d) rule will prevent continued declines in population abundance, and decrease synergistic, negative effects from other threats.

Section 4(d) requires the Secretary to issue such regulations as she deems necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of each threatened species and authorizes the Secretary to include among those protective regulations any of the prohibitions that section 9(a)(1) of the Act prescribes for endangered species. We are not required to make a “necessary and advisable” determination when we apply or do not apply specific section 9 prohibitions to a threatened species ( In re: Polar Bear Endangered Species Act Listing and 4(d) Rule Litigation, 818 F. Supp. 2d 214, 228 (D.D.C. 2011) (citing Sweet Home Chapter of Cmtys. for a Great Or. v. Babbitt, 1 F.3d 1, 8 (D.C. Cir. 1993), rev'd on other grounds, 515 U.S. 687 (1995))). Nevertheless, even though we are not required to make such a determination, we have chosen to be as transparent as possible and explain below why we find that the protections, prohibitions, and exceptions in this rule as a whole satisfy the requirement in section 4(d) of the Act to issue regulations deemed necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle.

The protective regulations for Suwannee alligator snapping turtle incorporate prohibitions from section 9(a)(1) to address the threats to the species. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(1) of the Act, and implementing regulations codified at 50 CFR 17.21 , make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to commit, to attempt to commit, to solicit another to commit or to cause to be committed any of the following acts with regard to any endangered wildlife: (1) import into, or export from, the United States; (2) take (which includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect) within the United States, within the territorial sea of the United States, or on the high seas; (3) possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship, by any means whatsoever, any such wildlife that has been taken illegally; (4) deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign commerce, by any means whatsoever and in the course of commercial activity; or (5) sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce. This protective regulation includes all of these prohibitions because the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is at risk of extinction in the foreseeable future and putting these prohibitions in place will help to prevent further declines, preserve the species' remaining population, slow its rate of decline, and decrease synergistic, negative effects from other ongoing or future threats.

In particular, this 4(d) rule will provide for the conservation of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle by prohibiting the following activities, unless they fall within specific exceptions or are otherwise authorized or permitted: importing or exporting; take; possession and other acts with unlawfully taken specimens; delivering, receiving, carrying, transporting, or shipping in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of commercial activity; or selling or offering for sale in interstate or foreign commerce.

Under the Act, “take” means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. Some of these provisions have been further defined in regulation at 50 CFR 17.3 . Take can result knowingly or otherwise, by direct and indirect impacts, intentionally or incidentally. Regulating take of the species resulting from activities including, but not limited to, illegal harvest (poaching), hook ingestions and entanglement due to bycatch associated with irresponsible commercial and recreational fishing of some species of freshwater fish (particularly as a result of unlawful activities or abandonment of equipment), and habitat alteration will provide for the conservation of the species. Therefore, we are prohibiting take of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, except for take resulting from those actions and activities specifically excepted by the 4(d) rule. Exceptions to the prohibition on take include the general exceptions to the prohibition on take of endangered wildlife, as set forth in 50 CFR 17.21 and additional exceptions, as described below.

Despite these prohibitions regarding threatened species, we may under certain circumstances issue permits to carry out one or more otherwise prohibited activities, including those described above. The regulations that govern permits for threatened wildlife state that the Director may issue a permit authorizing any activity otherwise prohibited with regard to threatened species. These include permits issued for the following purposes: for scientific purposes, to enhance propagation or survival, for economic hardship, for zoological exhibition, for educational purposes, for incidental taking, or for special purposes consistent with the purposes Start Printed Page 53526 of the Act ( 50 CFR 17.32 ). The statute also contains certain exemptions from the prohibitions, which are found in sections 9 and 10 of the Act.

In addition, to further the conservation of the species, any employee or agent of the Service, any other Federal land management agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service, a State conservation agency, or a federally recognized Tribe, who is designated by their agency or Tribe for such purposes, may, when acting in the course of their official duties, take threatened wildlife without a permit if such action is necessary to: (i) Aid a sick, injured, or orphaned specimen; or (ii) Dispose of a dead specimen; or (iii) Salvage a dead specimen that may be useful for scientific study; or (iv) Remove specimens that constitute a demonstrable but nonimmediate threat to human safety, provided that the taking is done in a humane manner; the taking may involve killing or injuring only if it has not been reasonably possible to eliminate such threat by live capturing and releasing the specimen unharmed, in an appropriate area.

We recognize the special and unique relationship that we have with our State natural resource agency partners in contributing to conservation of listed species. State agencies often possess scientific data and valuable expertise on the status and distribution of endangered, threatened, and candidate species of wildlife and plants. State agencies, because of their authorities and their close working relationships with local governments and landowners, are in a unique position to assist us in implementing all aspects of the Act. In this regard, section 6 of the Act provides that we must cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the States in carrying out programs authorized by the Act. Therefore, any qualified employee or agent of a State conservation agency that is a party to a cooperative agreement with us in accordance with section 6(c) of the Act, who is designated by his or her agency for such purposes, will be able to conduct activities designed to conserve the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle that may result in otherwise prohibited take without additional authorization.

The 4(d) rule will also provide for the conservation of the species by allowing exceptions that incentivize conservation actions or that, while they may have some minimal level of take of the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, are not expected to rise to the level that would have a negative impact ( i.e., would have only de minimis impacts) on the species' conservation. The exceptions to these prohibitions include take resulting from the following activities forest management practices that use State-approved best management practices (described below) that are expected to have negligible impacts to the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle and its habitat.

Pesticide and Herbicide Use: Pesticide and herbicide application was included as an exception in the proposed 4(d) rule and after further consideration, we are removing this exception. When considering pesticide use, we note that the EPA has not consulted on most pesticide registrations to date, so excepting take solely based on user compliance with label directions and State and local regulations is not appropriate in all situations. The Service will continue to coordinate with EPA on further pesticide consultation and registration efforts. We have reviewed comments provided during the public comment period on the exception to the prohibition of take related to pesticide use and the impact of pesticide use on the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. We have determined that the exception for pesticide use described in the preamble of the proposed rule was not necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species and have therefore not included that exception in this final rule.

Forest Management Practices: Forest management practices that implement State-approved BMPs designed to protect water quality and stream and riparian habitat will avoid or minimize the effects of habitat alterations in areas that support Suwannee alligator snapping turtles. We considered that forest management activities may result in removal of riparian cover or forested habitat, changes in land use within the riparian zone, or stream bank erosion and/or siltation. We recognize that forest management practices are widely implemented in accordance with State-approved BMPs (as reviewed by Cristan et al. 2018, entire), and the adherence to these BMPs broadly protects water quality, particularly related to sedimentation (as reviewed by Cristan et al. 2016, entire; Warrington et al. 2017, entire; and Schilling et al. 2021, entire), to an extent that does not impair the species' conservation. Forest landowners who properly implement those BMPs are helping conserve the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, and this 4(d) rule is an incentive for all landowners to properly implement applicable State-approved BMPs to avoid any take implications. Further, those forest landowners who are third-party-certified (attesting to the sustainable management of a working forest) to a credible forest management standard are providing audited certainty that BMP implementation is taking place across the landscape.

Summary: Thus, under this final 4(d) rule, incidental take associated with forest management practices that use State-approved BMPs to protect water quality and stream and riparian habitat is excepted from the prohibitions.

Section 4(a)(3) of the Act requires that, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, we designate a species' critical habitat concurrently with listing the species. Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as:

(1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found those physical or biological features

(a) Essential to the conservation of the species, and

(b) Which may require special management considerations or protection; and

(2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species.

Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.02 define the geographical area occupied by the species as an area that may generally be delineated around species' occurrences, as determined by the Secretary ( i.e., range). Such areas may include those areas used throughout all or part of the species' life cycle, even if not used on a regular basis ( e.g., migratory corridors, seasonal habitats, and habitats used periodically, but not solely by vagrant individuals).

Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated with scientific resources management such as research, census, law enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise relieved, may include regulated taking.

Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act through the Start Printed Page 53527 requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other conservation area. Such designation also does not allow the government or public to access private lands. Such designation does not require implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by non-Federal landowners. Rather, designation requires that, where a landowner requests Federal agency funding or authorization for an action that may affect an area designated as critical habitat, the Federal agency consult with the Service under section 7(a)(2) of the Act. If the action may affect the listed species itself (such as for occupied critical habitat), the Federal action agency would have already been required to consult with the Service even absent the critical habitat designation because of the requirement to ensure that the action is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species. Even if the Service were to conclude after consultation that the proposed activity is likely to result in destruction or adverse modification of the critical habitat, the Federal action agency and the landowner are not required to abandon the proposed activity, or to restore or recover the species; instead, they must implement “reasonable and prudent alternatives” to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.

Under the first prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it was listed are included in a critical habitat designation if they contain physical or biological features (1) which are essential to the conservation of the species and (2) which may require special management considerations or protection. For these areas, critical habitat designations identify, to the extent known using the best scientific data available, those physical or biological features that are essential to the conservation of the species (such as space, food, cover, and protected habitat).

Under the second prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, we can designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species.

Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on the basis of the best scientific data available. Further, our Policy on Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act (published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 ( 59 FR 34271 )), the Information Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 ( Pub. L. 106-554 ; H.R. 5658)), and our associated Information Quality Guidelines provide criteria, establish procedures, and provide guidance to ensure that our decisions are based on the best scientific data available. They require our biologists, to the extent consistent with the Act and with the use of the best scientific data available, to use primary and original sources of information as the basis for recommendations to designate critical habitat.

Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing regulations ( 50 CFR 424.12 ) require that, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, the Secretary shall designate critical habitat at the time the species is determined to be an endangered species or a threatened species. On April 5, 2024, we published a final rule that revised our regulations at 50 CFR part 424 to further clarify when designation of critical habitat may not be prudent ( 89 FR 24300 ). Our regulations ( 50 CFR424.12(a)(1) ) state that designation of critical habitat may not be prudent in circumstances such as, but not limited to, the following:

(i) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the degree of such threat to the species;

(ii) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of a species' habitat or range is not a threat to the species;

(iii) Areas within the jurisdiction of the United States provide no more than negligible conservation value, if any, for a species occurring primarily outside the jurisdiction of the United States; or

(iv) No areas meet the definition of critical habitat.

In the April 7, 2021, proposed rule ( 86 FR 18014 ), we determined that designation of critical habitat would not be prudent. However, we invited public comment and requested information on the factors that the regulations identify as reasons why designation of critical habitat may be not prudent, and the extent to which designation might increase threats to the species, as well as the possible benefits of critical habitat designation to the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle.

During the comment period, we did not receive any comments that caused us to change the not-prudent determination or our rationale for it. The not-prudent determination for the proposed rule was based on increasing the threat of collection as described in 50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)(i) . This component of the latest regulatory language has not changed from the regulatory language used in the proposed rule. The non-prudent determination for this final rule is the same as the proposed because the threat of collection is one of the factors in determining prudency that remained consistent in the previous regulations and the current regulations

Therefore, after review and consideration of the comments we received, we now make a final determination that the designation of critical habitat is not prudent, in accordance with 50 CFR 424.12(a)(1) , because the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle faces the threat of poaching, and designation can reasonably be expected to increase the degree of this threat to the species by making location information more readily available.

Regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Act are exempt from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. ) and do not require an environmental analysis under NEPA. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 ( 48 FR 49244 ). This includes listing, delisting, and reclassification rules, as well as critical habitat designations and species-specific protective regulations promulgated concurrently with a decision to list or reclassify a species as threatened. The courts have upheld this position ( e.g., Douglas County v. Babbitt, 48 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. 1995) (critical habitat); Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2005 WL 2000928 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 19, 2005) (concurrent 4(d) rule)).

In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994 (Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments; 59 FR 22951 ), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Start Printed Page 53528 Governments), and the Department of the Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our responsibility to communicate meaningfully with federally recognized Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with Secretary's Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with Tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge that Tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make information available to Tribes.

Upon the initiation of the SSA process, we contacted Tribes within the range of Suwannee alligator snapping turtle and additional Tribes of interest to inform them of our intent to complete an SSA for the species that would inform the species' 12-month finding. We did not receive any responses. In addition, no Tribes commented on our April 7, 2021, proposed rule to list the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle.

A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2021-0007 and upon request from the Florida Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT ).

The primary authors of this rule are the staff members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Species Assessment Team and the Florida Ecological Services Field Office.

  • Endangered and threatened species
  • Reporting and recordkeeping requirements
  • Transportation

Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations , as set forth below:

1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407 ; 1531-1544; and 4201-4245, unless otherwise noted.

2. In § 17.11, in paragraph (h), amend the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife by adding an entry for “Turtle, Suwannee alligator snapping” in alphabetical order under REPTILES to read as follows:

Common nameScientific nameWhere listedStatusListing citations and applicable rules *         *         *         *         *         *         * *         *         *         *         *         *         *Reptiles *         *         *         *         *         *         *Turtle, Suwannee alligator snapping Wherever foundT89 [INSERT PAGE WHERE DOCUMENT BEGINS], 6/27/2024; .  *         *         *         *         *         *         *

3. Amend §  17.42 by adding paragraph (k) to read as follows:

(k) Suwannee alligator snapping turtle ( Macrochelys suwanniensis ).

(1) Prohibitions. The following prohibitions that apply to endangered wildlife also apply to Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. Except as provided under paragraph (k)(2) of this section and §§ 17.4, 17.5, and 17.8 it is unlawful for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to commit, to attempt to commit, to solicit another to commit, or cause to be committed, any of the following acts in regard to this species:

(i) Import or export, as set forth at § 17.21(b) for endangered wildlife.

(ii) Take, as set forth at § 17.21(c)(1) for endangered wildlife.

(iii) Possession and other acts with unlawfully taken specimens, as set forth at § 17.21(d)(1) for endangered wildlife.

(iv) Interstate or foreign commerce in the course of commercial activity, as set forth at § 17.21(e) for endangered wildlife.

(v) Sale or offer for sale, as set forth at § 17.21(f) for endangered wildlife.

(2) General exceptions from prohibitions. In regard to this species, you may:

(i) Conduct activities as authorized by a permit under § 17.32.

(ii) Take, as set forth at § 17.21(c)(2) through (4) for endangered wildlife.

(iii) Take as set forth at § 17.31(b).

(iv) Possess and engage in other acts with unlawfully taken wildlife, as set forth at § 17.21(d)(2) for endangered wildlife.

(3) Exception from prohibitions for specific types of incidental take. You may take this species incidental to an otherwise lawful activity caused by forest management practices that use State-approved best management practices designed to protect water quality and stream and riparian habitat.

Martha Williams,

Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

[ FR Doc. 2024-13946 Filed 6-26-24; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4333-15-P

  • Executive Orders

Reader Aids

Information.

  • About This Site
  • Accessibility
  • No Fear Act
  • Continuity Information

COMMENTS

  1. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? Length & Word Count

    Reviewed By Conrad Benz, Hiring Manager. November 29, 2023 8 min read. As featured in *. Typically, a cover letter should be 250-400 words or three to four concise paragraphs. The ideal cover letter length is a half-page to one page long. This cover letter length gives you enough space to communicate your experience and convey your interest in ...

  2. Q&A: What's the Ideal Cover Letter Length?

    Limit your cover letter to four paragraphs. Generally, your cover letter should be between half a page and one full page in length. Divide your cover letter into three or four short paragraphs that can be read in around 10 seconds or less. In these paragraphs, include a strong topic sentence and write just enough to prove that you're ...

  3. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be in 2022?

    The ideal cover letter length is: Less than one page. Three to five paragraphs. Less than 400 words. At least that's the approximate consensus we came to based on research and input from a few experts who have worked as hiring managers, recruiters, or both.

  4. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? Ideal Length in 2024

    A cover letter for an academic position should be no longer than two pages, but long enough to show off your accomplishments. Research, teaching, departmental service, and relevant accolades. The typical academic cover letter is usually one and a half to two pages long (or about five to eight paragraphs.)

  5. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? (With Tips)

    The ideal cover letter should typically be between 250 and 400 words. This way, you can keep the letter brief and informative at the same time. However, employers have different requirements, so it's difficult to recommend a standard word count for cover letters. Before you write your cover letter, check to see if the company in question ...

  6. How Long Should A Cover Letter Be? The Best Length in 2024

    Stick to 250-400 words and 3-4 paragraphs. The only difference is that a cover letter email doesn't have a full-blown cover letter header with contact info and starts directly with "Dear Ms. Smith". How Long Should an Entry-Level Cover Letter Be? The general rule of thumb for cover letter length is 250-400 words.

  7. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be in 2024?

    Cover letters should range from a half-page to one full page. Your cover letter should never exceed one page in length. Perfect Cover Letter Length Characteristics. Page Count: 0.5 to 1. Word count: 250 to 400. Paragraph count: 3 to 6.

  8. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be and What Should Be Included?

    A cover letter can be anything between half a page and a full-page long. Generally, you should aim for a cover letter word count of 250 to 400 words and about three to six paragraphs. A short, concise cover letter serves as a written introduction to a prospective employer and outlines why you're the best fit for the job.

  9. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? The Optimal Length

    The optimal length of a cover letter should be around 250-400 words, depending on the job and industry. It's important to remember that the cover letter should complement your resume, not repeat it. Focus on highlighting your unique qualifications and demonstrating your enthusiasm for the position and company.

  10. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be

    Perfect Cover Letter Length. 250- 400 Words. 3-4 Paragraphs. One-page document. Recruiters and hiring managers go over hundreds of applications to find desirable candidates. Catch their attention quickly by using keywords from the job description and writing a concise cover letter with the relevant information they're looking for in a candidate.

  11. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

    How to reach the correct length in a cover letter. Cover letters should be a page in length and no more than four paragraphs. Here are 7 tips that can help you organize your thoughts and reach the perfect cover letter length: Check the requirements. Include your contact information. Briefly acknowledge the reader.

  12. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? (Examples)

    Cover letters should be one page long and total 75 to 250 words. This recommendation applies to both printed and email cover letters. It's okay if your cover letter doesn't take up an entire page, but it should never exceed one full page.

  13. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? (With Examples)

    The ideal length for a cover letter is around 300 words - somewhere between 250 and 400 words. If you're fresh out of college and are applying for a straightforward role, your cover letter could be a bit shorter, closer to 250. ... Generally, no. A two-page cover letter is too long and will potentially put off readers who don't have time ...

  14. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be in 2023? (+Examples)

    Find the right balance. When it comes to the number of words, never exceed 400 words. 250-300 words are the ideal length of an average cover letter. The perfect number of paragraphs in a cover letter ranges from three to four. The maximum number of paragraphs that are acceptable is six.

  15. What is the perfect cover letter length?

    1 page or 300-500 words. One commonly accepted guideline is to keep your letter to one page, with a cover letter word count of approximately 300-500 words. This length allows you to provide enough information to highlight your skills and experience, while remaining on point.

  16. How Long Should A Cover Letter Be? Can It Be Two Pages?

    Keep your professional cover letter to one page, maybe stretching to one and a half at most (the letter word count: 250 to over 400). Going over two pages might hurt your chances rather than increase them! Write to me if you need more advice on the contents of the cover letter. Christina J. Colclough.

  17. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? Ideal Length and Elements

    The ideal cover letter length should be between half a page and one page, which equates to 250-400 words spread over three to five paragraphs. ‍ Thirty-six percent of hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds reading a cover letter. It's a strong indicator that they're not interested in long cover letters that don't quickly communicate ...

  18. How Long Should A Cover Letter Be? 2022 Cover Letter Length Guide

    The length of a digital cover letter should be the same as that of a paper cover letter. Mainly. <1 full page. 250-300 words. 3 paragraphs. The difference in an electronic cover letter would be in the address section in the starting and the subject line.

  19. Achieving the Ideal Cover Letter Length

    The right cover letter length is essential for job-hunting success. How long should a cover letter be? The answer is as long as it takes to meet job description requirements, employer preferences, and professional norms. Sometimes, you might need two pages to check all these boxes. In most cases, however, you should limit it to one page.

  20. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be in 2023?

    While there is no universal rule for cover letter length, a general guideline is to keep it between half a page and one full page, which typically equates to approximately 250-400 words. However ...

  21. Can a Cover Letter Be Longer Than a Page? [3 Examples]

    Here are three real-life examples: Example 1: A candidate for a highly specialized role: This candidate was applying for a position that required in-depth knowledge of a specific technology. In their two-page cover letter, they provided a detailed explanation of their experience with this technology, including the projects they had worked on ...

  22. Q&A: How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? (With Steps)

    A two-page cover letter is too long for a job application and it's important to edit your cover letters to be one page or less. Cover letters that are 500 words or longer are also usually too long for a job application. If you have to adjust your margins, font or formatting to fit all the words on one page, then the letter is likely too long.

  23. PDF SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 17 CFR Parts 230, 232, 239, and 274

    the most part, designed to result in short, concise, and sensible cover page disclosures. 95. Other commenters, however, raised concerns. 96. First, some commenters raised concerns about the volume of disclosures proposed to be included on the cover pages, particularly those related to the maximum losses. 97. One such

  24. Q&A: What's the Ideal Cover Letter Length in 2024?

    4. Limit your cover letter to four paragraphs. Generally, your cover letter should be between half a page and one full page in length. Divide your cover letter into three or four short paragraphs that can be read in around 10 seconds or less. In these paragraphs, include a strong topic sentence and write just enough to prove that you're ...

  25. PDF 2023 Choosing a Medigap Policy

    • Cover all your pre‑existing health conditions. • Not charge you more for a Medigap policy regardless of past or present health problems. If you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, you have guaranteed . issue rights to buy a Medigap policy, but the Medigap policies are different. Go to pages 42- 44 for your Medigap policy ...

  26. Cool roofs are best at beating cities' heat

    The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, used a three-dimensional urban climate model of Greater London to test the thermal effects of different passive and active urban heat ...

  27. Fieldwork Opportunities as of July 1, 2024

    Please send a cover letter and resumé to [email protected] and include "Summer Program Intern" in the subject line. In the cover letter, please describe your areas of interest aligned with the Foundation's priority areas, state your preferred time commitment for the summer internship, and confirm that you are eligible to ...

  28. Federal Register :: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants

    The reviewers generally concurred with our methods and conclusions, and provided additional information, clarifications, and suggestions to improve the SSA report and this final rule. ... We received 14 public comment letters in response to the June 15, 2021, proposed rule. ... A substantial decrease in perennial snow cover is projected for the ...

  29. Federal Register :: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants

    The impacts allowed under nationwide permits usually include projects affecting stream reaches less than 150 ft (45.72 m) in length, and wetland fill projects up to 0.50 acres (0.2 hectares). Mitigation is usually provided for the same type of wetland or stream impacted and is usually at a 2:1 ratio to offset losses. Start Printed Page 53517