Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 8, 2019

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

Lawsuit Launched Over Trump Administration's Failure to Protect Wolverines, 25 Other Imperiled Species

Political Interference Keeps Lifesaving Protections From America's Wildlife

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a formal notice of intent to sue acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt for failing to make protection decisions for 26 species of animals and plants under the Endangered Species Act.

A 2016 workplan developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and updated annually, promised decisions on whether to protect rare and vanishing American wolverines, Franklin’s bumble bees, elfin woods warblers, Miami tiger beetles and others. But the Trump administration has not followed through on that pledge.

“In its failure to provide protection for these more than two dozen imperiled species, the Trump administration’s showing complete contempt for America’s endangered wildlife,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director. “These animals and plants that are on the brink of extinction need protection now, but they’re not getting it because of political interference. David Bernhardt seems determined to destroy our natural heritage.”

Fifteen species — including tricolored blackbirds, Panamint alligator lizards and Elk River crayfish — have been waiting years for a determination of whether they deserve protection as threatened or endangered species.

American wolverines, western glacier stoneflies and meltwater Lednian stoneflies were found to warrant protection but still await final decisions. And six already protected species that include black pine snakes, Miami tiger beetles and Florida bristle ferns await designation of protected critical habitat. 

The entire process of listing species and designating critical habitat is supposed to take two to three years. But on average it has taken the Fish and Wildlife Service 12 years, and in many cases decades, to protect species.

“If we’re going to save species from disappearing forever, we have to act quickly to give them the legal protection they need,” said Greenwald. “The Fish and Wildlife Service is badly broken and in need of reform so it can better protect species on the brink of extinction.”

In 2011 the Center and WildEarth Guardians settled a series of lawsuits that required the Fish and Wildlife Service to process a backlog of species awaiting decisions, resulting in nearly 200 species receiving protection. 

Upon completion of the settlement in 2016, the agency developed a workplan to address more than 500 species awaiting 12-month findings, which is how determinations of whether protection is warranted are made. Each year the agency also creates a workload scheduling additional findings that need to be made, including final listings and designation of critical habitat. 

All the findings included in today’s notice were included in either the 2016 workplan or the workloads for fiscal years 2017 and 2018, but were not made as scheduled.  

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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