WASHINGTON (CN) — Fed up with the backlog of more than 500 species on deck for federal protection, a biodiversity watchdog group filed suit Thursday to compel listing determinations by the Trump administration.
“As moose and golden-winged warblers and hundreds of other species fight the rising tide of the extinction crisis, Trump officials won’t lift a finger to help,” Noah Greenwald, the director of endangered species at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement this morning. “This administration’s ugly contempt for wildlife and the Endangered Species Act threatens our country’s entire web of life. Every day of delay brings these incredible, irreplaceable plants and animals one step closer to extinction.”
To date the Trump administration has protected only 21 species under the Endangered Species Act. In comparison, this far into their terms, Presidents Obama, Clinton and Bush had protected 360 species, 523 species, and 232 species, respectively.
A spokesman for Fish and Wildlife suggested Thursday that the environmentalists can keep waiting.
“A lawsuit will only serve to divert more of our limited resources towards litigation and away from the important work of conserving our nation’s wild life,” the USFWS spokesman said in an email.
In its complaint, the Center for Biological Diversity highlights 274 species of birds, butterflies, fish, mammals and plants in the lower 48 states whose listing determinations have been in limbo. The list includes the American wolverine, the yellow pond lily, the northern spotted owl, the Texas kangaroo rat, the Venus flytrap, the tufted puffin and the western bumblebee.
“The extinction crisis gets worse by the day, but Trump officials are twiddling their thumbs as plants and animals fade away,” Greenwald said. “It’s a moral failure of epic proportions. And it’s hurting future generations in ways that can never be undone.”
According to a report released last week by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, human activity is putting 1 million species at risk of extinction. The organization’s report was compiled by 145 authors from 50 countries over the past three years, and 310 contributors, who say that urgent action is needed to avert many species’ extinction.
Hours after filing Thursday’s suit, the Center for Biological Diversity reached a settlement in a separate case concerning the designation of critical habitats for 12 threatened coral species.
As part of the deal, which is also in Washington, the National Marine Fisheries Service has until July 31 to publish proposed protections for five species of coral found in Florida and the Caribbean and seven around islands in the Pacific Ocean.