The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) declined to list 25 species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Thursday after completing a 12-month review on the condition of each population.
The slate of denials comes more than a year after petitions to list 64 different species were filed with the FWS. So far, six species have been listed, six decisions have been delayed, and now 29 have been declined. Rulings on 21 more species are coming, The Washington Post reports.
FWS delivered the 25 rulings after “a thorough review of the best available scientific and commercial information.” Each species was deemed healthy and stable “for the foreseeable future,” however, they will be looked at again if any substantial changes come to the species or its habitat, the FWS report states.
The current list of species and populations denied federal protection are:
- 14 Nevada springsnail species
- Barbour’s map turtle
- Bicknell’s thrush
- Big Blue Springs cave crayfish
- Two populations of the black-backed woodpecker in Oregon Cascades-California and South Dakota’s Black Hills
- The eastern population of the boreal toad
- The Northern Rocky Mountains population of the fisher
- Florida Keys mole skink
- Great Sand Dunes tiger beetle
- Kirtland’s snake
- Pacific walrus
- San Felipe gambusia
The environmental group Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which filed most of the 64 petitions, blamed the swath of denials on the agency undervaluing endangered species and the impacts of climate change.
“There’s a lot of opposition to endangered species protections within the Department of Interior, and this kind of blanket rejection for all these species just really highlights that,” CBD endangered species program head Noah Greenwald told WaPo. “It’s spectacular cowardice on the part of the Fish and Wildlife Service, who don’t have the courage to do what they are charged with doing, which is to evaluate the scientific evidence, and not kowtow to undue political pressure.”
FWS spokesman Gavin Shire defended the agency’s decisions and condemned the idea that they were politically motivated.
“Our decisions on whether or not to list a species under the Endangered Species Act are always based on the best available science,” Shire told WaPo by email. “Each species is assessed individually on its merits, which include population status, trend and any conservation efforts that are underway to protect it against future declines.”
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