Broadbill Listed Under ESA

 

Broadbill Removed from ESA

The Guam broadbill formerly occurred throughout the forests and mangrove swamps of Guam. It was driven to extinction by habitat destruction and predation by introduced brown tree snakes. It was removed from the endangered species list on February 23, 2004.

The Guam broadbill was not an exception: seven species went extinct after the Guam Governor petitioned to list them as endangered species.

 

Petitioned

Extinct

Listed

Guam broadbill

1979

1984

1984

Guam bridled white-eye

1981

1983

1984

Little Mariana fruit bat

1978

1979

1984

Guam rufous fantail

1981

1984

 

Guam cardinal honey-eater

1979

1984

 

Guam white-throated ground dove

1979

1986

 

Guam Mariana fruit bat

1978

1985

 

....

The Governor of Guam petitioned to list the Pacific sheath-tailed bat as an endangered species in 1981.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife put it on the candidate list in 1982.  It is still on the list, unprotected and declining in 2004.

The songbird had already been extirpated from two-thirds of Guam when the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was created 1973, but a significant population still existed and could have been saved through captive breeding and local brown tree snake control. Instead, the broadbill’s listing was delayed for nearly eleven years and did not happen until after it was extinct.

The Governor of Guam petitioned to list the Pacific sheath-tailed bat as an endangered species in 1981. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife put it on the candidate list in 1982. It is still on the list, unprotected and declining in 2004.

No action was taken to protect the broadbill under the ESA until the Governor of Guam petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list it in 1979. The territory also requested that the northern coast line be designated as critical habitat. In 1982 the Fish and Wildlife Service declared that ESA listing was warranted, but that actual listing was precluded by higher priorities. The broadbill was placed on the agency’s “candidate list” where it received no protection. But there were no higher listing priorities. In fact, the assertion was made during the slowest listing period in the history of the ESA: between February 1981 and January 1982, not a single species was listed; in all of 1982, only 12 species were listed; and in the 12 months following the decision to delay protection for the broadbill, just seven species were listed. None of the 17 species listed during this three-year period were as endangered as the broadbill. All still exist today.

By the time the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a listing proposal in 1983, the broadbill had declined to about 100 birds occupying just 150 acres of forest in the Pajon Basin. A male broadbill was captured for emergency breeding purposes, but a mate for it could not be found. It died alone in captivity in February 1984.

In March, 1984 a single bird was seen on Andersen Air Force Base. In August the last Guam broadbill ever seen was reported near the Navy golf course. And on August 27, 1984, the broadbill was listed as an endangered species. The listing came almost eleven years after the ESA was created, six years after the governor of Guam petitioned for listing, two years after the species was put on the candidate list, and just days after it went extinct.

graphic Andrew Rodman ©2002
December 28, 2004
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