Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 18, 2018

Contact:  Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495,

Trump Administration Denies Protection to 13 Imperiled Species

Wrongfully Rejected Species Threatened by Habitat Destruction, Sea-level Rise

WASHINGTON— The Trump administration today denied protection to 13 rare and imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act, including the Florida sandhill crane, Cedar Key mole skink and San Joaquin Valley giant flower-loving fly. 

“By denying lifesaving protections to 13 species at once, the Trump administration is trumpeting its extreme contempt for imperiled wildlife,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These denials are shocking, even with former oil lobbyist David Bernhardt basically running the Interior Department. Many of these species will continue to decline, and some may even be lost without protections. One has already gone extinct.”

The 13 species face varying degrees of threat, but for some, scientific evidence clearly shows they need protection. The Cedar Keys mole skink and MacGillivray’s seaside sparrow, for example, both occur in coastal areas of the Southeast and will lose much of their habitats to sea-level rise.

The Ozark pyrg snail was denied protection because it was found to have gone extinct while waiting for protection. It was identified as needing protection in 1991 and last seen in 1997. It is the 47th species that has gone extinct waiting for protection. 

The snail once lived in the North Fork White River in Arkansas, where water quality is affected by nutrient loading and sedimentation from livestock, land clearing and gravel dredging.

“When a species goes extinct we lose a piece of our future,” Greenwald said. “We can and should do better. The loss of this snail due to the degradation of its freshwater habitat shows how delaying protection has tragic, permanent consequences.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s program for listing species has long been underfunded and too slow. But under the Trump administration, progress has ground to a near halt. 

The Endangered Species Act requires decisions about species protection to take two years, but on average it has taken the agency 12 years. To address a backlog of more than 500 species awaiting protection decisions, the Fish and Wildlife Service developed a seven-year workplan in late 2017. The Trump administration is now behind on decisions about lifesaving protections for 60 species. 

“We want the Fish and Wildlife Service to be able to do its job and protect endangered species,” said Greenwald. “But under the Trump administration, all we’re getting are delays and wrongful denials of species badly in need of protection.”

Another species denied protection today — the San Joaquin Valley giant flower-loving fly — has lost seven of eight of its known population. The last remaining population faces threats from sand mining and other development. And the Tinian monarch, a songbird, occurs only on the island of Tinian in the northern Marianas. The bird is threatened by development by the U.S. military and recently lost much of its habitat to super-typhoon Yutu. 

Five of the species were found to warrant protection by previous administrations, though such protection was delayed. Those are the striped newt, Fremont County rockcress, Frisco buckwheat, Ostler’s peppergrass and Frisco clover. 

“The Trump administration has abruptly reversed course and found these species don’t warrant protection,” Greenwald said. “We just don’t buy the thin justifications offered for these reversals, which could condemn these species to further decline.”       

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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