Before being declared protected by law, animals and plants have to stay for a while on the waiting list of Endangered Species. The list of candidates has been set up in the 1970s and it has now reached the lowest levels since then.
Yesterday the Fish and Wildlife Service has issued an updated list, after a settlement started in 2011 with the Center for Biological Diversity and some other groups. On the waiting list issued on Tuesday there are only 60 species left of which 18 plants and 42 animals.
According to Tierra Curry, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity 99 percent of the animals and plants under the care of the Endangered Species Act had been saved from extinction. However the ESA is functioning to protect the species only after they made it to the list. The fact that only 60 species are on the waiting list is a big step.
The agreement started in 2011 was requiring protection for 251 species which were on the waiting list in 2010 and to another 506 species that were petitioned for protection. Finally of the 757 species included in the agreement 151 have gained protection and other 71 were proposed for protection.
Some of the species protected following the agreement have been waiting for more than three decades. For example the Dakota skipper which is a beautiful prairie butterfly was on the waiting list since 1978. The Oregon spotted frog which is endangered by the wetland lost was waiting since 1989.
Other protected species include a beautiful bird found in the West ad known as the yellow-billed cuckoo which has been on the waiting list since 1998; an ancient salamander, the Ozark hellbender which is endangered by water pollution and has been waiting to make the final list since 2004; the Pacific walrus that might disappear as a result of ice melting due to climate change and the Hermes copper butterfly.
Only one species has been added on the waiting list this year as a result of the 2011 petition – the Sierra Nevada red fox.
But even if the waiting list is now shorter than ever over 40 species have disappeared while they were waiting for protection. Species on the waiting list aren’t receiving any substantive protection even if they warrant federal protection.
However, more than 500 species are waiting to be reviewed to determine if they should get on the waiting list of endangered species at a time of a major extinction crisis.
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