Lawsuit launched to finalize Endangered Species Act protection for four imperiled species

Lawsuit launched to finalize Endangered Species Act protection for four imperiled species
Sierra Nevada Red Fox (Source: Center for Biological Diversity)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of its intent to sue the Trump administration for failing to protect four imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act.

The Sierra Nevada red fox and Hermes copper butterfly from California, and Bartram’s stonecrop and beardless chinchweed from Arizona, were proposed for Endangered Species Act listing over a year ago, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to finalize listing these species within the required one-year timeline.

All four of these species have very limited ranges and small population sizes.

“The Endangered Species Act is incredibly successful at preventing extinctions and reversing declines,” said Justin Augustine, a senior attorney at the Center. “But that success can only be realized for these four species if they receive the protections they’re due. The Biden administration has a lot of catching up to do for endangered species.”

The Center petitioned for protection of the fox in 2011, the butterfly in 2004 and the plants in 2010. The plants were finally proposed for listing on Dec. 6, 2019, while the Sierra Nevada red fox and Hermes copper butterfly received their listing proposals on Jan. 8, 2020.

These Endangered Species Act proposals triggered a mandatory duty for the Fish and Wildlife Service to make a final determination on the proposed listings within one year.

Long delays in protecting species under the Endangered Species Act have been a persistent problem for decades. On average species have waited 12 years for protection during the Act’s 40-plus-year history, and at least 47 species have gone extinct waiting for protection.

Overall the Trump administration has only protected 25 species under the Endangered Species Act, the fewest of any administration since the Act was passed in 1973. In comparison, the Obama administration protected 360 species, and the Clinton administration protected 523 species.

The center hopes to work out a schedule with the Biden administration to ensure these four species receive the protections they need to avoid extinction.

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