SCIENTISTS, ARTISTS AND CONSERVATIONISTS
PETITION BUSH ADMINISTRATION TO PLACE 225 PLANTS AND ANIMALS ON
ACTION IS LARGEST LISTING EFFORT IN HISTORY OF
THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAS PLACED FEWER SPECIES ON ENDANGERED LIST,
REMOVED MORE, THAN ANY PRESIDENCY
A coalition of prominent scientists, artists
and environmentalists filed 1,000 pages of legal documents with the
Bush administration today, requesting that it cease delaying Endangered
Species Act protection for 225 of the nation’s most imperiled
plants and animals. The species span the country from Hawaii to Washington,
California, New York and Florida.
“Wildlife is facing serious threats almost everywhere. In
too many places around the world our forests are empty and silent,
devoid even of birdsong,” said Dr. Jane Goodall of the Goodall
Institute. “In the United States, the Endangered Species
Act is an effective tool for protecting species. But the current
administration and others seek to undermine this important law.
Some species have been on the federal waiting list for more than
20 years, and more than 30 species have become extinct or missing
while waiting for protection.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already
declared that all 225 plants and animals qualify as proposed
Instead of protecting them, however, it has placed them on a waiting
list called the “candidate list.” A recent report by
the Center for Biological Diversity shows that systematic delays,
including lengthy waits on the candidate list, contributed to the
extinction of 83 species between 1974 and 1994.
Seventy-nine percent of the 225 species (178) have been on the
candidate for at least ten years, 38% percent (86) have waited
at least 20 years, and 28% (64) have been waiting since 1975. On
average, the 225 species have been on the waiting list for 17 years.
“These magnificent species
are at death’s door,” said Kieran Suckling, executive
director of the Center for Biological Diversity, “if they
are not protected soon they will be lost forever. It is a long-standing
problem, but it has been greatly exacerbated by the Bush administration.
The Clinton administration placed 65 species per year on the endangered
list, Bush Sr. averaged 59, and Reagan 32. But the Bush administration
has essentially shut down the endangered species protection program.
It has listed just nine per year. It has the worst record in the
history of the Endangered Species Act.”
our map to view the candidate species by state.
Among the 225 plants and animals are the elfin woods warbler,
a beautiful Puerto Rican forest bird which was placed on the candidate
list in 1982. The Oregon spotted frog was placed on the candidate
list in 1991. It has disappeared from California, is barely hanging
on in Washington and Oregon, and was the first species listed as
endangered on an emergency basis by the Canadian government. The
Aquarius paintbrush, a stunning plant from Utah, was first placed
on the waiting list in 1975, as was the white fringeless orchid
(AL, GA, TN, KY, SC), and the bog asphodel (DE, NC, NJ, NY, SC).
Cagle's map turtle, a Texas endemic, has been waiting for protection
since 1977. The yellowcheek darter, an Arkansas fish, has been
waiting since 1975. The Hawaiian band-rumped storm petrel (a bird)
has been waiting since 1989.
Also joining the petition are two-time Pulitzer
Prize winner Dr. E.O. Wilson of Harvard University, National
Academy of Sciences
member Dr. Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University, Dr. Niles Eldredge
of the American Museum of Natural History, National Academy of
Sciences member Dr. John Terborgh of Duke University, Society for
Conservation Biology founder Dr. Michael Soulé of the University
of California at Santa Cruz, and National Medal of Science winner
Dr. Thomas Eisner of Cornell University.
“Extinction is the most irreversible and tragic of all environmental
calamities. With each plant and animal species that disappears,
a precious part of creation is callously erased,” said Dr.
Soulé. “Scientists have studied these species, and
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that they need
the protection of the Endangered Species Act. These plants and
animals can be saved if greed and arrogance are subdued by compassion
for life and common sense.”
Artists include Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Barbara Kingsolver,
Lannan Literary Award winning essayist Charles Bowden, former Poet
Laureate Robert Hass, and actor Martin Sheen.
“It is too late to save the California grizzly bear, the
eastern cougar, the Carolina parakeet, the passenger pigeon, or
the silver trout. They became extinct before America created the
Endangered Species Act, our modern day Noah’s Ark,” said
Dr. Hass. “But we’re not too late to save the 225 plants
and animals languishing on the federal candidate list. It’s
time to open the doors of the ark and let them in. They should
be placed on the endangered species list as soon as possible.”
Conservation groups included the Center for Biological Diversity,
which has won endangered species protection for more than 230 species,
the Xerces Socitey, which is the only national organization devoted
to the protection of invertebrates, and the Biodiversity Conservation
Alliance, which protects endangered species throughout the Rocky
The Solution: Action and Money
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not have sufficient funds
and staff to protect all these species and their habitats.
It has determined that it needs $153 million to list all these
and protect their habitats. The Bush Administration, however,
has repeatedly requested only a fraction of that amount from
Congress...$12 million for the current year...and has even
refused Congressional offers of additional money. The administration
should immediately propose all candidates for Endangered Species
Act protection, ask Congress for $153 million, and develop
five year plan to protect all these species and their critical