The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) released its three-year plan to propose removing 25 threatened or endangered species currently listed under the Endangered Species Act, including the delisting of species that are not yet recovered like the gray wolf in the Lower 48 States, Key deer and Canada lynx. These changes also include downlisting or delisting the red cockaded woodpecker as threatened or recovered; and downlisting 24 endangered species to threatened status. Premature downlisting from endangered to threatened could also be particularly harmful given the Trump administration’s impending regulatory changes that will reduce basic protections for newly threatened animals.
The news of these proposed changes is sobering, particularly in the wake of the recently released international assessment on the potential loss of up to 1 million species threatened with extinction in the coming decades.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“These proposed changes could worsen our nation’s biodiversity crisis. The Key deer is a prime example: proposing to delist the deer is premature when this species continues to suffer from habitat loss, vehicle collisions and the effects of sea level rise due to climate change. At this critical time, we should be doing everything that we can to save imperiled species and their habitat, and fully funding and implementing the Endangered Species Act to defend against extinction.
“We call on the Fish and Wildlife Service to make delisting and downlisting decisions based on sound science. The Endangered Species Act is our strongest conservation law, and one of our nation’s most successful laws ever enacted. Species like the Foskett speckled dace, pulled back from the brink of extinction thanks to the Endangered Species Act, are a testament to the effectiveness of this visionary legislation.”