US officially declares 23 species extinct, including ivory-billed woodpecker

September 29 (Reuters) – The ivory-billed woodpecker, whose last confirmed sighting dates back almost 80 years, is one of 23 federally protected species that would be officially declared extinct – the most ever at a time – under a US government proposal announced on Wednesday.

Although the woodpecker and some of the other creatures proposed for removal from the United States’ endangered species list have been functionally extinct for decades, scientists have warned that human-caused climate change and habitat destruction could make such disappearances more common.

“With climate change and the loss of natural spaces pushing more and more species to the brink, now is the time for proactive, collaborative and innovative efforts to save America’s wildlife,” the US secretary said. inside, Deb Haaland.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal would mark the largest group of animals and plants to be officially forgotten under America’s primary wildlife law, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), since its adoption in 1973.

Only 11 species previously listed under the law have been classified as extinct over the years, said Brian Hires, a spokesperson for the Home Office agency.

The 23 species currently proposed for delisting include a fruit bat, 11 birds, eight freshwater mussels, two types of fish and a flowering plant in the mint family, the agency said.

The ivory-billed woodpecker was said to have been seen in a remote part of Arkansas, bird watchers said on April 28, 2005. Several experts have spotted and heard at least one and possibly more ivory-billed woodpeckers in the region. bottom of an ancient cypress swamp in eastern Arkansas. One of them was filmed last year. REUTERS / FeedRoom Video for Reuters.com GMH / File Photo

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The ivory-billed woodpecker, known to bird enthusiasts as the “Lord God Bird,” was America’s largest woodpecker, but logging of ancient forests in the southern United States has destroyed its habitat. His last agreed sighting was documented in 1944 in northeast Louisiana, the service said.

Bachman’s Warbler is also on the list, considered one of America’s rarest songbirds. It has not been seen in the wild in the United States since 1962. The last documented sighting of the migratory bird was in Cuba in 1981.

The woodpecker and warbler were first listed as endangered in 1967 under ESA’s precursor, the Endangered Species Preservation Act.

Bird populations as a whole have declined by nearly 3 billion birds in North America since 1970 amid rapid environmental changes linked to human activity, according to the Wildlife Service.

Eleven of the species proposed for classification as extinct are native to Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, victims of increased risks posed by their very limited geographic range, the service said.

The Wildlife Service will accept public comment for the next 60 days, and a final judgment will be released on December 29, Hires said.

The Endangered Species Act has also seen some success, with 54 species removed from protection status due to their recovery, including the American Peregrine Falcon and the Bald Eagle. Another 56 species were “downgraded” from endangered to threatened. In total, more than 1,600 domestic animal and plant species are currently listed, Hires said.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Rich McKay in Atlanta Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles Editing by Sandra Maler and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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