Gray Whale, Bald Eagle, Gray Wolf Among Hundreds of Species Saved From Extinction by Endangered Species Act
PORTLAND, Ore.— As schoolchildren and community groups across the United States celebrate Endangered Species Day today, the ongoing power of the Endangered Species Act to prevent extinction and recover species has never been clearer. In the past year, federal officials have announced the recovery of several plants and animals protected by the Act, including the island night lizard, a songbird called the Inyo California towhee, two West Coast fish species and two California plants.
“The Endangered Species Act has been 99 percent successful at saving species from extinction and is putting hundreds on the path to recovery,” said Lori Ann Burd, endangered species campaign director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “But Congress needs to appropriate considerably more funding if the Act is to save all the species under its protection.”
The entire endangered species budget for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is roughly $180 million per year — less than the cost of a single F-35C fighter jet. Yet the landmark law is under constant threat from industry-funded Tea Party Republicans. Just last month the House Natural Resources Committee approved four bills designed to weaken the Act, including provisions that would divert funding from protecting species and discourage citizens from helping enforce the Act.
“The American people want to see endangered species saved, and they support a strong Endangered Species Act — polling has repeatedly proved that,” said Burd. “Republican attacks on the Endangered Species Act are out of step with the views of most Americans. Saving our native wildlife from extinction shouldn’t be tarred with a partisan brush. We all love and value the animals and plants that share this planet with us.”
PROTECTED SPECIES RECENTLY DECLARED RECOVERED
Island night lizard: Found only on the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California, this unique, 4-inch lizard has recovered to populations of more than 10,000 on several of the islands since being protected under the Act in 1977 thanks to a massive effort to remove nonnative pigs and goats on the islands. The lizard was declared recovered on March 31, 2014.
Inyo California towhee: Found only near springs in the Mojave Desert, this songbird has rebounded from fewer than 200 birds in 1987 to more than 700 birds today thanks to efforts to protect its habitat from the damage from grazing, recreation and mining. The towhee was declared recovered on Nov. 1, 2013.
Oregon chub: Habitat improvements and reintroduction efforts have helped this silvery, speckled minnow found only in Oregon’s Willamette Valley rebound from fewer than 1,000 fish in 1993 to more than 160,000 individuals today, resulting in it becoming, on Feb. 5, 2014, the first endangered fish species ever to be declared recovered.
Modoc sucker: When this fish was first protected in 1985, cattle grazing and predation by nonnative brown trout had reduced populations of this native of south central Oregon and the Pit River basin in northeastern California to seven streams in two watersheds, occupying just 13 miles of habitat. Today it is found in 12 streams in three watersheds and occupies 43 miles of habitat. It was declared recovered Feb. 12, 2014.
Eureka Valley evening primrose and Eureka dune grass: Both plants grow on sand dunes in Death Valley and nowhere else on Earth. Following their protection in the 1970s, their habitat was added to Death Valley National Park, protecting the species from off-road vehicles. The plants were declared recovered on Feb. 26, 2014. Because of continued threats from invasive species and drought, they will continue to need monitoring and restoration.