Washington, D.C. – The Trump Administration is on the cusp of finalizing a set of rules to weaken the Endangered Species Act, and a new report out today lists ten animals threatened by the Administration’s existing and proposed policies. Draft Department of Interior rules designed to make it harder to protect wildlife and important habitat would have negative impact on declining species such as the manatee, two sea turtles, and a rare bumble bee, according to the report, “Extinction Plan: Ten Species Imperiled by the Trump Administration.”
“The Interior Department under Secretary Zinke has been especially cozy with the industries that are harming the very wildlife the Department is supposed to protect,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “If the Trump Administration has its way, the new regulations will put these species on a fast track to extinction.”
Climate change and habitat loss are two of the biggest drivers of the decline of species like the Pacific leatherback sea turtle, the Humboldt marten, and the western yellow-billed cuckoo. In spite of that, the Trump Administration’s proposed a series of regulations last summer that would weaken the Endangered Species Act. The proposed rules would:
• Make it much more difficult to protect species impacted by climate change
• Make it harder to list a new species and easier to remove those now on the list
• Make it harder to designate critical habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife
• Reduce protections for threatened species
Extinction Plan: Ten Species Imperiled by the Trump Administration:
Sea turtles: leatherback and loggerhead
Rusty patched bumble bee
San Bernardino kangaroo rat
West Indian manatee
Western yellow-billed cuckoo
Endangered Species Coalition’s member groups nominated species for the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations, and decided which species should be included in the final report. The full report, along with photos and additional species information can be viewed and downloaded at http://endangered.org/extinction-plan.
Although the Administration and some members of Congress have been seeking to weaken the Act, public opinion research indicates that the law continues to maintain broad, bipartisan, public support. A 2015 poll conducted by Tulchin Research found that 90 percent of American voters across all political, regional and demographic lines support the Endangered Species Act.
The Endangered Species Act was a landmark conservation law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 92-0 in the Senate, and 394-4 in the House, and signed by President Richard Nixon 45 years ago on December 28. In 2017, more than 400 organizations signed a letter to members of Congress opposing efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act, noting the law has a 99 percent success rate, including some of the country’s most exciting wildlife recoveries, like the bald eagles, humpback whales, American alligators, Channel Island foxes, Tennessee purple coneflowers, and more.
Scientific consensus indicates that we are in the sixth wave of extinction. The main tool in the United States to battle this human-caused crisis is the Endangered Species Act, which has been very effective in keeping species from sliding into extinction.
The Endangered Species Coalition produces a “Top 10” report annually, focusing on a different theme each year. Previous years’ reports are also available on the Coalition’s website.