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For Immediate Release, December 15, 2011

Contact:  Bert Harris, 61 451852859,
Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

New Study: 75 Percent of U.S. Animals Internationally Recognized as in Peril
Lack Protection of Endangered Species Act

Highlights Need for More Funding, Faster Process Under Act

PORTLAND, Ore.— A study published in the international journal Conservation Letters this month found that nearly 75 percent of U.S. animals, or about 531 species, that are classified as imperiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature are not protected under the Endangered Species Act. The study highlights the need for more funding for the Act as well as an expedited protection process.

“Our study found that hundreds of imperiled animals are not receiving the protection they need to survive,” said Bert Harris, lead author of the study and a graduate student at the University of Adelaide in Australia. “The Endangered Species Act is the world’s most effective law for saving species, but it can only work if species are protected as threatened or endangered.”

Many of the animals identified in the study have been under consideration for protection for years, but got caught in a large backlog of species needing protection at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Under a settlement agreement reached in July between the agency and the Center for Biological Diversity, many of these species will get protection decisions in the next five years, including the Gunnison sage grouse, Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, Florida bonneted bat, Kittlitz’s murrelet, Jollyville plateau salamander and Oregon spotted frog.

“Our settlement agreement is a good first step toward protecting animals that desperately need the lifeline of the Endangered Species Act,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director. “But even with our settlement, this study shows, there are hundreds of species not even being considered for protection under the Act. It would be a tragedy if America’s incredible heritage of native wildlife vanished from the Earth just because we were too cheap and bureaucratic to protect it.”           

In total, the study identified 18 mammals, 25 birds, 44 amphibians and 444 invertebrates that are considered imperiled by IUCN — the foremost international authority on the conservation status of animals and plants — and may need protection under the Endangered Species Act.

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