The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced Wednesday a proposal “to remove 23 species from the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants” as they are believed to now be extinct.
Once confirmed, this removal would be the biggest sweep of species marked extinct at one time.
The most notable on the list is the ivory billed woodpecker, who was last documented in 1944 in northeastern Louisiana. Nicknamed the “Lord God Bird,” it was America’s largest woodpecker, placed on the endangered species list in 1967. It’s believed that logging of old-growth forests in its Louisiana habitat contributed to its extinction.
Bachman’s warbler also made the list and is considered one of America’s rarest songbirds. In the United States, the warbler has not been seen in the wild since 1962. The last documented sighting of the bird occurred in Cuba in 1981.
Senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, Tierra Curry, said that “The Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of 99% of the plants and animals under its care, but sadly these species were extinct or nearly gone when they were listed. The tragedy will be magnified if we don’t keep this from happening again by fully funding species protection and recovery efforts that move quickly. Delay equals death for vulnerable wildlife.”
Many of the species marked for extinction have been on the endangered list for a considerable amount of time. The FWS has taken an average of 12 years to safeguard species, and Curry feels this is a direct cause of extinction in many cases.
“We’re at risk of losing hundreds [of] more species because of a lack of urgency,” Curry said. “The Endangered Species Act is the most powerful tool we have to end extinction, but the sad reality is that listing still comes too late for most species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service badly needs to reform its process for protecting species to avoid further extinctions, and it needs the funding to do so. We can’t let bureaucratic delays cause more extinctions.”
The list also includes two fish (Scioto madtom and San Marcos gambusia), eight species of Southeastern freshwater mussels, eight birds and a flower from Hawaiʻi, and a bird and bat from Guam.
The FSW has provided the public an opportunity to submit comments to be received or postmarked on or before November 29, 2021.