A coalition of 172 citizen groups sent letters today to eight U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional directors urging the agency to expedite efforts to protect hundreds of imperiled plants and animals around the country under the Endangered Species Act. The diverse coalition of conservation, wildlife-rehabilitation, animal-welfare, faith, educational, tourism and women’s organizations is urging the federal government to fight the extinction crisis by swiftly implementing protection under the Act for more rare and vanishing species.
“The Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the plants and animals under its care, but it only provides a safety net to species once they’re protected,” said Angela Crane, endangered species organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s just not acceptable that we recently lost two Florida butterflies to extinction before they ever gained protection. That’s why these 172 groups all over the country are urging the Service to take immediate action so more species aren’t lost forever.”
There has been a backlog of plants and animals needing protection almost since passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, with hundreds of species now waiting decades for protection. In 2011 the Center reached an agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service that requires the agency to consider protection for 757 species over six years. The agreement only requires the Service to determine whether protection is warranted; it does not require the agency to protect any of the species.
The letters sent today ask the agency to actually provide protection for these species and highlight particular species from each region, including the Hawaiian honeycreeper (‘i‘iwi), Rio Grande cutthroat trout, eastern massasauga rattlesnake, Black Warrior waterdog, eastern small-footed bat, Montana Arctic fluvial grayling, Pacific walrus and relict leopard frog.
“The sooner we protect endangered plants and animals, the more likely it is we’ll be able to save them and the less it will cost,” said Crane. “Under our settlement agreement, the Fish and Wildlife Service has been making progress in addressing the backlog of species in need of protection, but many imperiled species are still being left behind. We urge Congress to give the agency more funding to save our country’s endangered species before it’s too late.” More....