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For Immediate Release, May 17, 2012

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

Study: 90 Percent of Endangered Species Recovering on Time

Nevada's Native Fish, Bald Eagles Among Species Improving Because of Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON— A new Center for Biological Diversity analysis of 110 endangered species finds that 90 percent, including many in Nevada, are on track to meet recovery goals set by federal scientists. The review examined population trends of plants and animals protected by the Endangered Species Act in all 50 states, including Nevada’s bald eagles, Pahrump poolfish and another fish called the cui-ui. Again and again, the analysis finds species on a positive trajectory toward recovery — and in some cases, exceeding expectations.

“There are Endangered Species Act success stories in every state in America, and Nevada’s no exception,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center. “No other law in the world has done so much to rescue species from the brink of extinction and put them on a path to recovery. Simply put, the Act has been remarkably successful.”

The study analyzed population data for 110 species from the year each was placed on the endangered species list through 2011. Each species’ actual population trend and trajectory was compared to the timeline for recovery set out in government recovery plans. Nearly all the animals and plants are recovering on time to meet federal goals.

The study’s findings are similar to a 2006 Center analysis of all federally protected species in the Northeast, which found 93 percent were stabilized or improving since being put on the endangered species list and 82 percent were on pace to meet recovery goals.

“Some of Nevada’s important native species, including bald eagles and tiny Pahrump poolfish, are on their way to recovery thanks to the Endangered Species Act,” Suckling said.

Today’s report, which relies on data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and independent scientists, is a science-based rebuttal to attacks on the Act by critics like Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, who claims the Act is “failing badly” because only 1 percent of species have been recovered. In fact, the report finds that 80 percent of species haven’t been listed for long enough to reach their projected delisting date. On average, species have been protected for 32 years and have a typical expected recovery period of 46 years.

“Saving species from the brink of extinction — and bringing them back to a point where they’re going to survive into the future — can’t happen overnight,” Suckling said. “Calling the Act at failure at this point is like throwing away a 10-day prescription of antibiotics on the third day and saying they don’t work. It just makes no sense.”

For full recovery profiles of the 110 species — and an interactive regional map — go to

Nevada Highlights

Cui-ui. Until the 1930s, these 27-inch fish that can live up to 50 years were historically found in two Nevada lakes. After a drought coupled with unrestricted water diversion dried up one of the lakes, cui-ui occurred only in Pyramid Lake and the lower Truckee River, where they spawn. Through the mid-1900s half the river’s flow was diverted for agricultural uses, severely damaging fish populations, and in 1967 the fish were listed as endangered. Beginning in the 1980s, improved regulation of water flows, fishing restrictions, hatchery programs and a new dam fishway contributed to increased cui-ui populations, including a record run of 1.3 million in 2005. But the runs still drop dramatically in dry and low-flow years, as demonstrated by a run of only 169 adults in 2004, and until the improved runs can be proven to be sustainable, cui-ui will retain their endangered status.
Bald eagle. Our national bird began its decline in the 19th century at the hands of trophy hunters, feather collectors and outright wanton killing. It had already been extirpated or reduced to low numbers in most states by the 1940s, when DDT and other organochlorides came into wide use and almost drove it to extinction. In 1967 bald eagles were listed as endangered in the lower 48 states. In 1970 the eagles were joined on the list by American peregrine falcons, Arctic peregrine falcons and brown pelicans. The listing of these large, charismatic birds rallied the nation to ban the production and sale of DDT in 1972. Because of this ban, increased habitat protection and aggressive captive-breeding and translocation programs, bald eagle pairs in the lower 48 soared from 416 in 1963 to 11,052 in 2007, when the species was removed from federal protection. In 1984, 13 states lacked nesting eagles. By 1998, three years after it was downlisted from endangered to threatened, the bird was absent from only two. By 2006, it nested in all 48 states. Although Nevada has never been one of the eagle’s strongholds in the lower 48, the birds’ gradual resurgence there, with five nesting pairs recorded in 2007, is emblematic of its widespread recovery nationwide.
Pahrump poolfish. This 2-inch-long fish with a 3-year lifespan is the only existing fish native to Nevada’s Pahrump Valley and the only surviving species in its genus, a group of desert fish evolved to live in isolated Nevada springs. In the 1950s, three of the springs the poolfish inhabited dried up from excessive pumping, and the remaining fish were relocated to four pools from a fourth spring that was being overpumped. In 1967 the species was listed as endangered. The most successful of the two relocation ponds are at the 1,240-acre Shoshone Ponds Natural Area, where in 2010 the population was estimated at 4,527, and Spring Mountains Ranch State Park, where in 2010 the population was estimated at 7,400—a remarkable recovery in numbers.

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