Majority Hadn’t Been Seen Prior to Their Listing Under the Endangered Species Act
Washington, DC

The Fish and Wildlife Service, today declared it is removing 21 species from the Endangered Species Act due to extinction. FWS first proposed the delisting two years ago, and at the time included 23 species — including the ivory-billed woodpecker, Bachman’s warbler, two species of freshwater fish, eight species of Southeastern freshwater mussels, and 11 species  from Hawaii and the Pacific Islands including birds, a plant and a bat. 

The ivory-billed woodpecker will now be addressed separately by the Service in another rulemaking process and the proposal to delist a Hawaiian plant  (Phyllostegia glabra var. lanaiensis) due to extinction was withdrawn, since recent surveys identified suitable habitat that might still contain the species. 

“Extinction is a very real and permanent consequence of leaving the joint biodiversity and climate crises unhindered,” said Lindsay Rosa, vice president of conservation research and innovation at Defenders of Wildlife. “It is also a reminder to support the greatest tool we have in the fight against species loss – the Endangered Species Act. Many of these species were added to the Endangered Species Act when they were too far gone to truly benefit from its life saving protections.    This announcement reinforces the need for fully funding the Act so that future species listings aren’t delayed or falling through the cracks.” 

The majority of the 21 species were thought to be extinct or functionally extinct before they were listed under the Endangered Species Act.     

For one species, the Kaua’i nukupu’u—a type of honeycreeper--  there had not been a confirmed sighting since the 19th century, and the species was likely extinct more than a century ago. Likewise, the last undisputed sighting of Bachman’s warbler was in 1962, 11 years before the ESA was made law. 

The ESA is an incredibly successful law with over 95% of species listed under it still with us today. When species are protected in time, they almost always are saved from extinction.

Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

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