Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

May 16, 2005

Contacts: Noah Greenwald, 503-484-7495
Kieran Suckling, 520-275-5960
More Information: Map of Candidate Species by State, Candidate Notice of Review



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released last week a new “candidate notice of review,” designating 286 species as candidates for listing as threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. In the review, FWS acknowledges that these species warrant protection, but argues that such protection is precluded by other actions to protect species. Based on an analysis of the list and past lists, the Center for Biological Diversity has determined that most of these species have been waiting for years to receive protection and that the Bush Administration has made little progress towards providing protection to these species.

Candidate designation doesn’t provide any protection to species. Of the 286 species currently recognized as candidates, 265 (93%) have been waiting for protection for five or more years, 224 (78%) have been waiting 10 or more years, 178 (62%) have been waiting 15 or more years, 117 (41%) have been waiting 20 or more years, and 73 (26%) have been waiting 25 or more years. On average, these species have been waiting for protection for over 17 years. Delays in protection have real consequences with at least 27 species having gone extinct after designation as a candidate.

“The Bush Administration is simply failing to protect the Nation’s wildlife,” states Noah Greenwald, Conservation Biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Endangered Species Act is an effective tool for saving wildlife from the abyss of extinction, and the Administration isn’t using it.”

The Endangered Species Act allows FWS to designate species as warranted but precluded, thereby delaying their protection, provided that the agency is making “expeditious” progress adding higher priority species to the list. The Bush Administration, however, has listed the fewest number of species of any administration. To date, the Bush Administration has only protected 32 species, all under court order, compared to 512 during the Clinton Administration and 234 under the elder Bush’s Administration.

“The Nation’s wildlife need protection not foot-dragging,” states Kieran Suckling, Policy Director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s unacceptable to allow species to go extinct because of bureaucratic delays.”

The list of candidate species has gotten longer since the Bush Administration came into office. In 2001, there were 252 species on the candidate list compared to 286 today, reflecting the small number of species listed by the administration.

Candidate species occur in nearly every state. The following are but a few examples of the precious wildlife species we may lose if protection continues to be delayed. If you don’t see your state, please visit

Oregon Spotted Frog (OR, WA, CA, BC). The Oregon spotted frog has been waiting for protection for 13 years. It is found in California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia in wetlands from sea level to at least 5,500 feet. The frog’s habitat has been lost at an accelerating pace and the species is now absent from up to 90 percent of its former range, including all of California.

Sonoyta Mud Turtle (AZ). The Soynoyta Mud Turtle has been a candidate since 1997. In the U.S., it has been reduced to a single reservoir in Arizona that is isolated from populations in Mexico. The Turtle eats insects, crustaceans, snails, fish, frogs, and plants. Females bury their eggs on land.

Florida Semiphore Cactus (FL). The Florida Semiphore Cactus has been waiting for protection for six years. It is a large prickly pear cactus from the Florida Keys that was thought to have been driven extinct by cacti collectors and road construction in the late 1970s, but was rediscovered in the mid-1980s. Much of its historic habitat has fallen prey to development, destruction and fragmentation. Just two populations remain.

Na'ena'e (HI). The Na’ena’e is a striking plant of the bogs and wet forests near the summit of Waialeale on the island of Kauai. The Smithsonian Institution petitioned to list it as an endangered species in 1975. In 1976 the agency formally proposed to list the Na’ena’e as an endangered species, but never finalized listing. This rare Hawaiian plant has thus waited for protection for 29 years. Today there are just 25 plants left.

Eastern Massasauga (IL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NY, OH, PE, WI,ON). The Eastern Massasauga is a wetland rattlesnake of the Midwest and Great Lakes. It has been waiting for protection for 25 years, having been made a candidate in 1982. The snake is extirpated from 40% of the counties it historically inhabited due to wetland losses from urban and suburban sprawl, golf courses, mining and agriculture.

Parachute Penstemon (CO). The Parachute Penstemon is an attractive perennial plant that grows on rocky cliffs above the Colorado River near the town of Parachute, Colorado. It occupies just two locations of less than one-third of a square mile. The beardtongue has been listed as a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act since 1990. Both populations are on lands slated for oil shale mining.

White Fringeless Orchid (AL, GA, TN, KY, SC). The White Fringeless Orchid is a two-foot-tall herb that grows in wetlands in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Alabama's coastal plain. It has been a candidate for 30 years. The orchid is limited to 53 locations.


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