Green Groups Sue to Compel Endangered Species Listings

Hermes Copper Butterfly

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump Administration to compel them to list 8 “highly imperiled” species that were on the verge of being listed at the end of the Obama Administration.  Since then their final listing decisions have languished in the Interior Department’s Fish & Wildlife Service, which is supposed to move expeditiously according to the Endangered Species Act because the goal is to avoid extinction.  The Center for Biological Diversity noted in its press statement that the “rate of listing has now plummeted to the lowest level in decades.”  The numbers speak for themselves.

  • The Trump administration has listed only 17 species under the Endangered Species Act — the fewest protected by any administration in its first two years since the Reagan administration.
  • By comparison, the Obama administration listed 72 species and the Clinton administration listed 196 during their first two years.

”The species are being deprived of urgently needed protections despite the fact that the service is not making expeditious progress in listing other species,” according to the complaint.  The species at grave risk are:  the Sierra Nevada red fox, the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly, the longfin smelt, the Hermes copper butterfly, the redtree vole, the gopher tortoise, the Berry Cave salamander and a plant called Marron bacora.  Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director, said the failure to list the species is like a “death sentence” for them and that “the Trump administration is stalling safeguards that could pull species back from the brink of oblivion.”

And globally, there is more bad news for endangered species.  The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) was scheduled to hold its 18th Conference of Parties (CoP18) meeting starting yesterday in Sri Lanka.  The meeting was postponed because of the terrorist bombings that took place there late last month, and now will be delayed until at least January 2020, and may have to be moved to a different city in order to ensure the safety of the attendees.  

Why This Matters: We are in the midst of a huge trend of biodiversity loss, and the recent UN “Extinction” report was supposed to shake us out of our ignorance, denial, and apathy.   When an endangered species’ numbers get too low, it is impossible to reverse the downward spiral.  The report pointed out that we humans rely upon biodiversity in order to sustain life on Earth. Not to mention, that the Trump Administration has a legal obligation under the Endangered Species Act to try to keep species from going extinct.  But they apparently have other priorities.

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