Biden administration drops ball on federal protections for more than 60 endangered species

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WASHINGTON – The Biden administration failed to make the required protection decisions for 66 species at risk in fiscal 2021, violating promises in a workplan developed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The 2016 plan aimed to close a backlog of hundreds of species awaiting protection, including the Hermes copper butterfly, Florida cap bat, Rio Grande cooter turtle and 63 others.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service’s species listing process is just too slow to cope with the extinction crisis, and Biden officials need to speed things up,” said Noah Greenwald, director of endangered species at the Center. for Biological Diversity. “If the Service cannot streamline its decision making and follow its own work plan, we will lose more plants and animals to extinction. It is 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 when the Endangered Species Act was passed. law and perhaps could have been saved, but they were not protected in time. These species – including the stirrup shell and flat mussels and a bird, the white-bridled Guam – have vanished as they languished on waiting lists.

Now, the Service has passed the deadline for 66 cash discoveries that were due in fiscal year 2021, which ended on September 30. Each year, the agency creates a workload plan for additional findings that need to be made, including final listings and identification of critical habitat. All 66 species were part of the 2016 annual workload and work plan, which was updated in May 2021, but conclusions for these species were not made as expected.

The Service has failed to draw dozens of workplan conclusions each year. The agency failed to make the required conclusions 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 ‘fiscal year 2020.

A 2016 study found that cash waited an average of 12 years before receiving collateral. By law, protection decisions are supposed to take two to three years. The Service’s species listing process involves multiple levels of bureaucracy and up to 20 people for decisions that must be based only on the best available science.

In addition to reforming this process, Congress must provide more funds to the Service for registration, as well as for recovery. Conservation groups urge Congress to triple the registration budget.

Earlier this week, the Biden administration took an important step in the right direction and announcement it will be to cancel two Trump regulations. A Trump rule severely limit the government’s ability to protect the habitat that endangered animals and plants need to survive and recover. The second opened the exclusion of habitat from protection on the basis of fabricated economic claims.

“It was great news that the Biden administration repealed the terrible Trump rules on critical habitat, but the Service’s program for the species listing is down,” Greenwald said. “We hope that the administration will also breathe new life into the agency. There is no excuse for letting the cash die out.

Select the background of the species

Hermès copper butterfly: The Hermes copper butterfly is currently only found in San Diego County, California and northwestern Baja California, Mexico. The butterfly inhabits the chaparral and coastal sage scrub, where its host plant, the thorny redberry, is found. Many butterfly populations have disappeared in recent decades, in part because urban sprawl has destroyed and fragmented the species’ habitat.

Continued urban development, along with climate change, fires and drought are the most serious threats to the species.

Florida Beanie Bat: Named for the large ears that hang over their foreheads, cap bats are the largest of Florida’s 13 bat species and the second in North America. They are found only in South Florida. Bats roost in old tree cavities and man-made structures and feed on insects in open spaces like wetlands and open freshwater. They also use one of the lowest frequency echolocation calls of all bats, so some people are actually able to hear the chirping birds of the bonnet bats as they hunt for birds. insects.

Rio Grande Cooter: These beautifully marked turtles live in large, deep pools with relatively clear water and sandy or rocky bottoms in the Pecos-Lower Rio Grande Basin from New Mexico to Texas, as well as Mexico. Intermittent stream flows due to water diversions and flood control practices have rendered large swathes of the Rio Grande uninhabitable, while pollution of rivers by natural gas and runoff from oil fields likely explains the apparent absence of the species over a 160 km stretch of lower Pecos.

Louisiana Pine Snake: Practical predators, Louisiana pine snakes feed primarily on ground squirrels whose burrows they inhabit. Because underground burrows provide limited space for hunting, these ingenious snakes have adapted unique methods of catching their prey, using the burrow’s containment walls to their advantage. Louisiana pine snakes spend more than half of their time underground and are harmless to humans.

Historically, Louisiana pine snakes were distributed in nine parishes in Louisiana and 14 counties in Texas, but they now only live in four parishes in Louisiana and five counties in Texas.

Sickle stinger: Large by dart standards, the sickle dart measures almost 5 inches long. It has larger scales than other darts and a prominent black stripe on the side. It uses its large mouth and long pointed snout to feed on mayfly larvae, midges, ground beetles, caddisflies and dragonflies. Sickle-shaped darts can live up to four years.

The Sickle Darter is threatened by the siltation that fills the spaces between the rocks at the bottom of the river that the fish need to lay eggs and find prey, water pollution from agriculture, logging and mining , and the roadblocks that separate its populations. In Tennessee, Sickle Darter populations exist in the Emory, Little, and Sequatchie rivers.

These populations are separated from the populations of the Upper Clinch, Middle and North Fork Holston rivers in Virginia. The fish was wiped out in North Carolina, where it has previously been found in the French rivers Broad, South Fork Holston, Powell and Watauga.


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