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Endangered Species

Activists: U.S. Lost 114 Species In 20 Years

One-hundred-fourteen plant and animal species became extinct or went missing during the 20 years that the Endangered Species Act has been in effect, according to a group that monitors species protections.

  • 92 species became extinct without ever having Endangered Species Act protection.

  • Listing delays contributed to the extinction of 88 species.

  • 27 species became extinct while waiting on the federal candidate or warrant review list.

  • 21 species became extinct while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service processed petitions to protect them.

This is not a terribly surprising claim. But I imagine the administration has a response. Let's read on:

The [Fish and Wildlife] service noted that of the 1,248 species on the list in 2003, "only 2 percent of them were extirpated, while 33 percent were stable or improving."

"The assertion that the Endangered Species Act has failed because species went extinct before they were listed ignores the positive benefits other species have received from the act," the service added.

So what they're saying is that being listed helps species, so therefore not being listed couldn't have contributed to the extinction of other species. Somehow I don't find that convincing, or even logical. But I suppose that the environmentalists should be happy that the Fish and Wildlife Service is extoling the benefits of being listed, since that only makes the case for why it helps to get more species listed.

The Interior Department seems to think that making things so good for the listed species is what's keeping them from getting to the unlisted species:

"Two-thirds of the endangered species listing budget is being consumed by court orders and settlement agreements requiring designation of critical habitat for species already on the endangered species list," the department said.

That sounds to me like an argument for an increased budget, so that the endangered species act can be effective and comprehensive.


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