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Endangered Species Need Protection to Support Biodiversity and Life

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to take action to protect 23 wildlife species in the Southeast that are at risk of extinction. Citing deep concerns about unprecedented assaults on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), CBD’s letter reiterates the critical need for FWS to provide timely protection to the most critically imperiled species.

>> Urge FWS to provide Endangered Species Act protection for 23 species in the Southeast. Urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to support the ESA’s scientific review process and protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats. 

CBD’s letter highlights the plight of 23 freshwater animals and plants, including the Southern snaketail and the sunfacing coneflower, and the failure of FWS to meet its deadlines for issuing proposals on species whose status has been determined as “may warrant protection.” CBD urges FWS to follow the law –to review and publish species protection proposals.

A declining budget and opposition from the Trump administration are stalling these critical protections. This administration has proposed slashing the budget for endangered species listings by half, from $20.5 to $10.9 million, and prioritizing the delisting of species rather than granting protection to new ones. These budget cuts are being proposed despite FWS’s backlog of hundreds of species found to warrant consideration for protection. Since 2000, several southeastern species have been identified as extinct, including the beaverpond marstonia snail; Tatum Cave beetle; Florida zestos skipper and rockland grass skipper butterflies; green blossom, yellow blossom, tubercled blossom, and turgid blossom pearly mussels; Florida fairy shrimp; and South Florida rainbow snake. Many of the species CBD petitioned for are still awaiting reviews, while others were withdrawn from the petition.

“Endangered species decisions have long been plagued by delay and political interference, but these problems are becoming a crisis under Trump,” said Tierra Curry, a CBD senior scientist. “Rather than following the law and reviewing the status of species like the Southern snaketail, the administration wants to push them out the back door and ignore those at risk of extinction.”

Attacks on ESA have been a regular occurrence since the inauguration of the U.S. Congress on January 3, 2017. This Congress already has seen at least 63 legislative attacks seeking to strip federal protections from specific species or undercutting the Endangered Species Act. Among the attacks is a provision in the House version of the 2018 Farm Bill to exempt the use of pesticides from ESA review, threatening hundreds of endangered species, and making it legal to kill any endangered species with a pesticide at almost any time.

With species decline increasing across the globe, it is critical that we protect those species already at heightened risk. An important provision of ESA is the requirement that each federal agency that proposes to authorize, fund, or carry out an action that may affect a listed species or its critical habitat must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. Although many species –including the bald eagle, Florida manatee, and California condor— have been protected and brought back from the brink of extinction under the ESA, an estimated 500 species have disappeared in the past 200 years.

>> Urge FWS to provide Endangered Species Act protection for 23 species in the Southeast. Urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to support the ESA’s scientific review process and protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats.


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