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For Immediate Release, November 20, 2012

Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

Backlog of Plants and Animals Waiting for Protection Drops Below 200 for First Time in 15 Years

Landmark Agreement to Protect America's Most Endangered Species Is Working

WASHINGTON— For the first time since 1996, the number of plants and animals waiting for federal protection has dropped below 200, highlighting the success of a landmark agreement reached with the Center for Biological Diversity that requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to speed protection decisions for 757 species. According to the 2012 “candidate notice of review” released today by the Service, 192 species are awaiting Endangered Species Act protection. 

Miami blue butterfly
Miami blue butterfly photo courtesy Flickr/Bill Bouton. Photos of this and other species in the 757 agreement are available for media use.

“I’m pleased to say our agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service is working just as we’d hoped — accelerating the protection of dozens of plants and animals that desperately need it right now,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director. “The Ozark hellbender, Miami blue butterfly and Acuña cactus are just a few of the cool species that have received lifesaving protection in the past year. And a lot more will be saved from extinction over the next few years because of this agreement.” 

“Candidates” are species that have been found to warrant protection, meaning they are at risk of extinction but the agency lacks resources to provide that protection. Many have been waiting decades for protection. The Fish and Wildlife Service issues an annual notice of review describing its progress over the fiscal year in protecting these species, as well as discussing any new species that are considered candidates. In this year’s review, the agency reported that it protected 43 species and proposed protection for 85 species. It also recognized two new candidates, the Cumberland arrow darter and Peñasco least chipmunk. 

“This is the most progress the Fish and Wildlife Service has made protecting America’s endangered wildlife this century,” said Greenwald. “I’m hopeful that the Cumberland arrow darter, which is severely threatened by mountaintop removal, won’t have to wait 20 years for protection — and that the poignantly named ‘least chipmunk,’ which lives on just a single mountain in New Mexico, won’t either.” 

Under the agreement, the coming year will see decisions about protection for many significant species, including the American wolverine, bi-state population of greater sage grouse, lesser prairie chicken, yellow-billed cuckoo and red knot.   

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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