Oct 25, 2023
Normally, a plant or animal being removed from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) would be seen as a triumph. But not this month. The little Mariana fruit bat, flat pigtoe mussel, and Bachman’s warbler are among the 21 species dropped from the list last week. It wasn't due to rising numbers, but extinction.
Martha Wells is a director at US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Wells said in a press release, “Federal protection came too late.” She noted that we mark 50 years of the ESA this year. She added: "We are reminded of the Act’s purpose to (stop) the journey toward extinction." She said the utmost goal is to recover these species, so they no longer need the Act to survive.
A few of the species still have living members in zoos. But all have either not been observed in the wild for years or lack enough breeding adults to stage a comeback. In total, the newly extinct species include 10 birds, eight mussels, two fish, and one mammal. Their natural habitats range from Hawaii and Guam to Texas.
USFWS officials stated that human actions led to the extinctions. Humans cause habitat loss and introduce invasive species and diseases that threaten vulnerable animals.
The ESA was adopted in 1973. It has proven vital in guarding wildlife as a whole, the USFWS notes. More than 100 species have dropped off the list due to population recovery, rather than extinction.
Reflect: What do you believe are the main challenges in preserving endangered species, and what role can individuals and communities play in helping to protect and recover these species?
Endangered Species Act
This article details the history and impacts of the Endangered Species Act, which protects the habitat of species in the United States that are near extinction.
Essentials of Environmental Science: Humans and the Environment
This video provides an overview of environmental science terms and topics.
Data Puzzle: The Tipping Point
In this lesson, students analyze data from the work of three ecologists researching how moss campion is affected by climate change and if there is a point that is too warm for the species to thrive.