‘A Wake-Up Call’: 21 Species Declared Extinct by U.S. Fish & Wildlife service
‘A Wake-Up Call’: 21 Species Declared Extinct by US
“It’s a wake-up call on the importance of conserving imperiled species before it’s too late,” said the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The agency said it had conducted “rigorous reviews of the best available science” and determined that the animal species are no longer in existence, having been protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) starting in the 1970s and ’80s, when they were already in very low numbers—or potentially already extinct in some cases.
“These plants and animals can never be brought back,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). “We absolutely must do everything we can to avert the loss of even more threads in our web of life.”
CBD noted that human exploitation of wildlife and the resulting spread of invasive species was directly linked to at least one of the species losses.
Eight types of the Hawaiian honeycreeper bird species are among the extinct animals, after “their forest habitats were razed by development and agriculture,” said CBD.
“The introduction to the islands of mosquitoes, which are not native and carry both avian pox and avian malaria, provided the nail in the coffin,” said the group. “Now several other native Hawaiian birds are on the brink, including the ‘akikiki, which is down to as few as five pairs in the wild because climate change is allowing mosquitoes to reach further up into their mountain habitat.”
Martha Williams, director of the FWS, said federal protections “came too late to reverse these species’ decline.”
“It’s a wake-up call on the importance of conserving imperiled species before it’s too late,” said Williams. “As we commemorate 50 years of the Endangered Species Act this year, we are reminded of the Act’s purpose to be a safety net that stops the journey toward extinction. The ultimate goal is to recover these species.”
Other bird species that the FWS confirmed as extinct include the Bachman’s warbler and the bridled white-eye. The Little Mariana fruit bat was also delisted as well as at least two fish species—the San Marcos gambusia and the Scioto madtom—and eight freshwater mussel species.
“It’s not too late to stop more plants and animals from going extinct, but we have to act fast,” said Greenwald.
The FWS noted that the ESA has been credited with saving 99% of listed species from becoming extinct, with more than 100 plant and animal species being delisted and reclassified due to recovery and improved conservation status.
“Extinction is a very real and permanent consequence of leaving the joint biodiversity and climate crises unhindered,” said Lindsay Rosa, vice president of conservation research and innovation at Defenders of Wildlife. “It is also a reminder to support the greatest tool we have in the fight against species loss—the Endangered Species Act. Many of these species were added to the Endangered Species Act when they were too far gone to truly benefit from its life-saving protections.”
“This announcement reinforces the need for fully funding the Act so that future species listings aren’t delayed or falling through the cracks.”