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  • Post published:05/11/2021
  • Post last modified:05/11/2021
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fails To Protect Species Facing Extinction For The Fifth Year In A Row

The failure to make required protection decisions for 66 imperiled species in fiscal year 2021, violated promises made in a Workplan that was developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016. The plan was intended to address a backlog of hundreds of species awaiting protection, including the Cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl, Florida bonneted bat, Rio Grande cooter turtle, and 63 more.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service’s process for listing species is just too slow to address the extinction crisis, and Biden officials need to speed things up,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “If the Service can’t streamline its decision-making and follow its own workplan, we are going to lose more plants and animals to extinction. It’s heartbreaking.”

The Service recently declared 23 species extinct. Many of the 23, including the ivory-billed woodpecker, were already gone by the time the Endangered Species Act was passed in late 1973. But five still survived as of the Act’s passage and perhaps could have been saved, but they were not protected in time.

The Service has failed to make dozens of findings from the Workplan every year and now, information on 66 species that was due in fiscal year 2021, which ended September 30th, has passed.

As noted by the Center of Biological Diversity, the agency failed to make required findings for 30 species in fiscal year 2017, 78 species in fiscal year 2018, 46 species in fiscal year 2019, and 58 species in fiscal year 2020.

A 2016 study found that species waited a median of 12 years to receive safeguards. Under the statute, protection decisions are supposed to take two to three years. The Service’s process for listing species involves multiple layers of bureaucracy and upwards of 20 people for decisions that are required to be based solely on the best available science.

In addition to reforming this process, Congress needs to provide more funding to the Service for listing, as well as recovery. Conservation groups are urging Congress to triple the listing budget.

Last week, the Biden administration took an important step in the right direction and announced it will rescind two Trump regulations. One Trump rule severely limits the government’s ability to protect habitat that imperiled animals and plants need to survive and recover. The second opened up the exclusion of habitat from protection based on trumped-up economic claims.

“It was great news that the Biden administration rescinded the terrible Trump critical habitat rules, but the Service’s program for listing species is broken,”continued Greenwald. “We hope the administration will also breathe new life into the agency. There is no excuse for letting species go extinct.”

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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