The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delivered disheartening news on Monday: 21 species, once featured on the national list of threatened and endangered species, have now vanished from our world. The list of the now-extinct species includes:
“Our determinations of whether the best available information indicates that a species is extinct included an analysis of the following criteria: detectability of the species, adequacy of survey efforts, and time since last detection,” experts from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.
Proposals to delist these species from the endangered and threatened list were already made in 2021, driven by the unfortunate reality that some of these species had not been observed since dates ranging from 1899 to 2004.
Current data from the Center for Biological Diversity reveals a grim picture: the U.S. has now lost 650 species to extinction. Such loss can be attributed to multiple factors, including the impacts of climate change, rampant pollution, and the introduction of invasive species.
Between 2004 and 2022, climatic changes led to a staggering 39 percent of amphibian species edging closer to extinction. Moreover, an alarming figure reveals that approximately three billion birds have disappeared from North America since 1970.
However, 99 percent of species on the endangered and threatened list have evaded extinction until now. Thanks to concerted recovery efforts, 54 species have been removed from the list, while another 56 have seen their status improved from endangered to threatened.
“Federal protection came too late to reverse these species’ decline, and it’s a wake-up call on the importance of conserving imperiled species before it’s too late,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Martha Williams.
“As we commemorate 50 years of the Endangered Species Act this year, we are reminded of the Act’s purpose to be a safety net that stops the journey toward extinction. The ultimate goal is to recover these species, so they no longer need the Act’s protection.”
One poignant example, the Hawaiian honeycreepers, suffered extinction due to massive deforestation for development and agriculture. Exacerbating their decline, non-native mosquitoes introduced to Hawaii transmitted avian pox and avian malaria.
The Center for Biological Diversity has highlighted the precarious situation of other Hawaiian avian species. The ‘akikiki,’ for instance, is teetering on the edge of extinction with a mere five pairs identified in their natural habitat.
The Bachman’s warbler’s tragic disappearance, the Center notes, is a result of rampant habitat annihilation. Meanwhile, the bridled white-eye and the Mariana fruit bat fell prey to the predatory brown tree snake, an invasive species.
Additionally, the Mariana fruit bat faced threats from agricultural encroachments and its over-exploitation as a food source.
The San Marcos gambusia was imperiled by excessive water utilization affecting the groundwater reserves and the flow of springs. Dam-related runoff and sediment accumulation contributed to the vanishing of the Scioto madtom.
If concerted efforts to protect the currently threatened and endangered species are not urgently made, many others could soon be lost too, further diminishing our planet’s biodiversity
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