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

Contacts: Noah Greenwald, 503-484-7495 June 15, 2005
To view the report click here.



The Center for Biological Diversity released a report today demonstrating the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is failing to make “expeditious progress” listing known imperiled species as threatened or endangered as required by the Endangered Species Act. There are currently 286 candidate species that have on average been waiting for protection for 17 years. The Report shows that under the Bush Administration, progress by FWS towards protecting these and other species has crashed to the lowest level since the landmark law was passed in 1974.

“The Bush Administration is 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 report calls for sweeping changes to the listing program, including creating and fully funding a “listing swat team” to protect all of the 286 candidate species caught in the listing backlog in the next five years, and an increase in listing funding to 25 million dollars annually.

“Drastic changes in implementation of the listing program are needed to save numerous wildlife species from extinction,” states Greenwald. “The Nation’s wildlife need protection not foot-dragging.”

The report documented that FWS under the Bush Administration has listed the fewest number of species of any Administration, only protecting 30 species for a rate of 7 species per year. This compares to listing of 498 species by FWS under the Clinton Administration for a rate of 65 species per year and 2225 under the elder Bush’s Administration for a rate of 59 species per year. The Bush Administration also is the only Administration to only list species under court order.

“The rate of species listings under the Bush Administration is clearly not indicative of expeditious progress,” states Greenwald

FWS argues that they can’t protect the 286 species because all of their funding is taken by court orders requiring designation of critical habitat or listing determinations on petition findings. The Clinton Administration, however, also experienced significant litigation, but still managed to list species. Several factors explain this difference. Unlike the Bush Administration, the Clinton Administration budgeted money for non-court ordered listings and completed many such listings. The Clinton Administration also worked to make listings efficiently, listing more species per dollar than the Bush Administration.

“Claiming that they’re not listing species because of litigation is a classic bait and switch,” states Greenwald. “The Bush Administration is not listing species because of their opposition to environmental protections, particularly those that conflict with the interests of their friends in the oil and gas, timber and mining industries.”

The report further documented that the rate of species listings per dollar has dropped from 22 species listed per million dollars spent in 2000 to just two species per million dollars in 2003 and six species per million in 2004. These differences cannot be explained by inflation or increased listing requirements.

Background on the 286 Candidate 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 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: for a link to a map of each state, which then can be clicked on to find some of the candidates for each state.

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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