With the onset of three lawsuits filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service scheduled dates to decide on endangered species protections for 27 plants and animals across the country. The court order only addressed a portion of the species in which the Center is seeking to protect.
The Center called it a “legal victory,” and, while it brings them one step closer to protection as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, there are hundreds more still waiting.
“I’m so glad these 27 species are finally getting a shot at badly needed protections and a chance to avoid extinction,” Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center, said. “It’s incredibly frustrating, however, that some of these animals and plants have waited decades for help. Disturbingly, the Fish and Wildlife Service has done little to nothing to address the problems that caused these delays.”
According to a press release, “the Service has taken 12 years on average to list species under the Act, but according to the law it is supposed to take two.” Close to 47 species went extinct while under the Service’s consideration for protections, the Center reported.
“The Service’s slow, bureaucratic process for listing species has tragic consequences, like further declines, more difficult recoveries and sometimes even extinction,” Greenwald said. “This is simply unacceptable.”
Some of the species that will be up for protection decisions by the end of fiscal year 2022 include tricolored bats, eastern gopher tortoises, and longfin smelts. A few Floridian plants seeking protection decisions were first identified as needing the Act’s protection in 1975, yet didn’t receive it until 2016 or 2017, according to the Center.
“We’re in an extinction crisis, and scientists are warning of the impending loss of more than a million species. We need a Fish and Wildlife Service that does its job and acts with urgency,” Greenwald said.