Last Gasp

WildEarth Guardians requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invoke an emergency provision in the Endangered Species Act to protect 32 plant and animal species facing imminent extinction. The species in question—including a silkworm disappearing as a result of cotton production, a mayfly not seen since 1934 but rediscovered in 2005, and rarely seen flowering plants—are currently found on one or no known sites and face multiple threats.

“These species deserve immediate, emergency protection under the Endangered Species Act,” said John Horning, the executive director of the New Mexico-based nonprofit. “The Fish and Wildlife Service has the authority to save them from vanishing forever, and we’re urging them to use that authority.”

WildEarth Guardians came up with its list of 32 imperiled species by petitioning wildlife watchers across the country last summer. The group pointed out that the Bush administration has a dismal record in terms of adding species to its endangered and threatened lists. George H.W. Bush listed 58 species per year during its four year term, while Bill Clinton upped the ante, listing some 65 species per year during his tenure in the White House. In contrast, George W. Bush has listed nine species per year. WildEarth Guardians is hoping to turn up the heat on the administration to list especially imperiled species before it’s too late.

For its part, the Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to acknowledge the request, although officials point out that the agency has 90 days to respond formally to any such petitions.

“We’re requesting emergency protection for plants and animals that are a hair’s breadth from extinction,” added Horning. “Some haven’t been seen for decades, others are located at only one site on Earth—they all deserve the chance at survival that the Endangered Species Act provides.”

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