WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity, along with 38 other conservation organizations, urged the Biden administration today to increase its request for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Act listing budget for fiscal year 2023 to at least $63.7 million — more than three times the wildlife agency’s current budget.
Today’s letter to the Service and the Office of Management and Budget comes after the Service recently proposed removing 22 animals and a plant from the endangered species list because of extinction. Many of these 23 species were only protected after they were already gone. The U.S. has already lost more than 150 species to extinction, and 500 more have not been detected in many decades and are likely extinct.
“The heartbreaking reality is that extinctions are preventable, so when we permanently lose an animal or plant, it’s really a political choice,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center. “Our most vulnerable species face a deadly combination of decades of underfunding and unnecessary bureaucratic delays within the Service. The Biden administration needs to do better.”
Today’s letter notes that at current funding rates, “it could take the Service up to 10 years to process all of the remaining species that the agency has identified as potentially needing protection. Meanwhile, if trends hold, one species will be declared extinct every year in the United States while waiting for protection under the Act. If we let that happen, it would be morally unforgivable.”
A 2016 study found that species waited a median of 12 years to receive safeguards, in part due to funding shortfalls. In total, at least 47 species have gone extinct waiting for protection. Scientists warn that an additional 1 million animal and plant species around the world will face extinction in the coming decades if the world fails to take immediate action.
“How many more species will we lose before our leaders say enough is enough?” said Kurose. “President Biden can choose to leave a legacy of conservation by making bold investments in protecting our nation’s wildlife. Or he can choose to be the extinction president. We hope he makes the right decision.”
Nine months into his term, Biden has yet to nominate a Fish and Wildlife Service Director. His administration also has yet to reverse any of the disastrous Trump regulations gutting the Endangered Species Act.
Other groups joining today’s letter include Earthjustice, NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife and the Humane Society of the United States.