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Feds Agree to Consider 29 Species for Endangered Species Act Protection

WildEarth Guardians Sees Decision As Step Forward

DENVER - In response to petitions and litigation by WildEarth Guardians, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued decisions today for 38 plant and animal species in the western U.S. For 29 species, the Service gave the green light for proceeding with a review to decide whether to protect (list) the species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“We’re pleased that the Service will consider these animals and plants for federal protection, as they are all critically imperiled. What they need now is actual listing under the Endangered Species Act - until this happens, they have no protections,” stated Dr. Nicole Rosmarino, Wildlife Program Director for WildEarth Guardians.

WildEarth Guardians views the positive findings for these 29 species as a step forward in the listing process. The species must now undergo a status review to determine whether they warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. Further, the group points out that there are thousands of species in the U.S. considered by scientists to be imperiled but that have not yet been petitioned for listing.

“To catch up with the biodiversity crisis in the U.S., the Service needs to be listing dozens of species at once. There is a huge gap between endangered species recognized by the government versus ones viewed by scientists as imperiled - the federal list only includes about 20% of the species scientists consider at risk,” stated Rosmarino.

Of the 29 species the Service will be reviewing, 20 are plants, one is a fish, two are insects, and six are snails. Collectively, these species occur in 21 U.S. states and parts of Canada. Nearly all of these plants and animals are threatened by the loss or degradation of their habitat. The Service also found that climate change is a threat for several of these species. The “mist forestfly,” (Lednia tumana) for example, depends on glacier-fed streams in Glacier National Park for survival - streams, which are under threat due to rising temperatures. In fact, scientists predict all glaciers in Glacier National Park will disappear by 2030 (see U.S. Geological Survey images at http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/research/glacier_model.htm).

“The mist forestfly is like a tiny polar bear; its existence is tied to habitat that is melting away due to the climate crisis. This forestfly deserves federal protection, and its recovery must entail defense of the glaciers in Glacier National Park,” stated Rosmarino, adding, “The forestfly’s timeline for extinction due to climate change is even swifter than high-profile animals such as the polar bear and pika.”

The 20 plants for which the Service issued a positive finding are: Yellowstone sand verbena, Ross’ bentgrass, Hamilton milkvetch, Isely milkvetch, skiff milkvetch, precocious milkvetch, Cisco milkvetch, Schmoll milkvetch, Fremont County rockcress, boat-shaped bugseed, Pipe Springs cryptantha, Weber whitlowgrass, Brandegee’s wild buckwheat, Frisco buckwheat, Ostler’s peppergrass, Lesquerella navajoensis (a bladderpod), Flowers’ penstemon, Gibben’s beardtongue, pale blue-eyed grass, and Frisco clover. The fish is the northern leatherside chub. The two insects are Platte River caddisfly and mist forestfly (or meltwater lednian stonefly). The six snails are frigid ambersnail, Bearmouth mountainsnail, Byrne Resort mountainsnail, longitudinal gland pyrg, Hamlin Valley pyrg, and sub-globose snake pyrg.

View the Service's finding: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-19494.pdf.


 

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