On Thursday, the Trump administration announced that 25 declining animal species, described as “highly imperiled” by the Center for Biological Diversity, will not be included on the list of endangered species warranting protection. Among the species left off the list are the Florida Keys mole skink, the black-backed woodpecker, the Eastern Boreal toad, the Kirtland’s snake, and 14 species of Nevada springsnails. Noah Greenwald, who is the Center for Biological Diversity’s endangered species director, says that this decision, outlined in a Department of the Interior memo, places the 25 species “one step closer to extinction.”
“This is truly a dark day for America’s imperiled wildlife,” says Greenwald. “You couldn’t ask for a clearer sign that the Trump administration puts corporate profits ahead of protecting endangered species.”
One species that is causing interest and concern among environmentalists is the Pacific walrus. The walrus, which is native to Alaska, has been threatened in recent years by a decline in the thickness and stability of sea ice due to issues associated with climate change. The walruses use the sea ice both as a means of transportation and to forage for food, as well as nursing their young. The sea ice has been declining rapidly for years and hit record lows in the fall of 2016 and winter 2017.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned, in 2008, for protection for the walrus. Unfortunately, instead of receiving the requested protection, the walrus was merely placed on a candidate list. According to the Center, yesterday’s decision was based on limiting projections on chances for the survival of the walrus to the year 2060, rather than on any new study or information.
Of course, not everyone is upset about the new decision. According to an article in USA Today, Alaska’s Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Republican Rep. Don Young are more than happy with the decision.
“Their thorough review,” Murkowski said, “driven by the best available data and science, found that the population of Pacific walrus is robust and healthy, and has proven that it can adapt to the changing conditions of the arctic.”
The Center for Biological Diversity’s Greenwald believes that climate change factors, including but not limited to habitat loss, sea-level rise, warming waters, and reduction in arctic and sea ice, are some of the major threats facing many of the species left off the endangered list. The given reason for these 25 species to be left off the list was that the projections for their extinction were too speculative. The Trump administration has been widely criticized for attempting to downplay the effects of global climate change and for disregarding the opinions of reputable scientists on the subject.
“Denying protection for these 25 species,” said Greenwald, “despite the imminent threat of ongoing climate change and habitat destruction is typical of the Trump administration’s head-in-the-sand approach.”
[Featured Image by S.A. Sonsthagen, U.S. Geological Survey/AP Images]