Endangered Species Act Listing

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Endangered Species Act Listing

From WildEarth Guardians, July 2011

But the law can’t protect species that aren’t formally listed as “endangered” or “threatened.” There’s a wide gap between those plants and animals that scientists consider imperiled and species that have been listed under the ESA.

In fact, over 80 percent of species in the western U.S. that scientists have ranked as imperiled have no status under the nation’s endangered species law. Even species deemed warranted for listing must often wait years for protection when they are placed on the candidate list.

Native plants and animals are going extinct at accelerated rates across the globe. While extinction is a natural process, the current extinction pace is at least 1,000 times the normal rate. This mass extinction crisis is due to habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, exploitation, proliferation of non-native species, and other threats. The fundamental drivers of the loss of biodiversity are human overpopulation and over-consumption.

One of the best tools for fighting species loss is the United States Endangered Species Act (ESA). This is our nation’s most powerful environmental law, and since it was passed in 1973, the ESA has been 99 percent successful at preventing the extinction of listed species. Only 9 of the approximately 2,000 species listed under it have gone extinct. It is enormously popular, with polls and research consistently indicating that 85 percent or more of the American public supports it, from many walks of life.

But the law can’t protect species that aren’t formally listed as “endangered” or “threatened.” There’s a wide gap between those plants and animals that scientists consider imperiled and species that have been listed under the ESA. In fact, over 80 percent of species in the western U.S. that scientists have ranked as imperiled have no status under the nation’s endangered species law. Even species deemed warranted for listing must often wait years for protection when they are placed on the candidate list.

WildEarth Guardians has an energetic and relentless campaign to usher imperiled species onto the legal ark of the ESA. We operate with the understanding that species on the brink don’t have the luxury of time. We petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for protection of individual species and follow those requests up with lawsuits as necessary. We rally public support and raise public awareness that these native species have a right to exist and, if they disappear, the ecosystems of which they are a part can collapse.

In our ambitious campaign to afford more endangered wildlife and plants the ESA’s protections, WildEarth Guardians has:

  1. Petitioned for hundreds of individual species to be listed.
  2. Requested protection for Western Grouse, members of the Prairie Dog Empire, and Borderlands Species to safeguard unique ecosystems and landscapes.
  3. Undertaken concerted, hard-hitting campaigns to draw attention to the need for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to step up the national listing program.

Candidate Species Protection Initiative. We are in court across the country trying to force listing of candidates. WildEarth Guardians is one of several plaintiffs in a federal D.C. court case that challenges the overall use of the “warranted but precluded” loophole by FWS. We are also in court for a number of individual candidates: