For Immediate Release, May 4, 2023
Stephanie Parent, (503) 320-3235, firstname.lastname@example.org
Biden Administration Sued for Failing to Protect Endangered Species Habitat From Harmful Pesticides
TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today to push it to take action to stop endangered species from being harmed by pesticides in habitats that are critical to their survival.
The Service failed to respond to a January 2019 petition to prohibit nearly all uses of pesticides in areas designated as critical habitat for endangered species, despite the Center’s prior notice that it intended to sue the agency.
The Environmental Protection Agency has released a dozen assessments in the past several years finding that various pesticides are causing grave harm to most of the nation’s most endangered plants and animals. Hundreds of other pesticides may harm these same species’ critical habitats, yet remain unassessed for their potential risks.
Yet the Service has failed to put in place any on-the-ground conservation measures to protect species from pesticides.
“Protected wildlife and plants continue to needlessly suffer and decline while the Service sits idly by,” said Stephanie Parent, senior counsel at the Center and lead counsel in the case. “Pesticides are a major factor in the extinction crisis, but the Service has literally no plan to deal with their harms. This petition should be granted so wildlife finally can benefit from practical, common-sense conservation measures to protect them from pesticides.”
The petition calls for the agency to use its independent authority under the Endangered Species Act to proactively put in place measures to protect endangered wildlife and plants from harmful pesticides.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has long recognized that pesticides pose extensive threats to endangered species. Recovery plans for 250 endangered species specifically identify pesticides as a known threat and obstacle to their recovery.
Pesticides continue to be a primary threat causing more wildlife and plant species to added to the endangered species list, including the rusty patched bumblebee in 2017 and the California spotted owl listed earlier this year.
After many years of litigation, the EPA recognized that it needed to reform its programs to address the harms of pesticides to endangered species. In the past two years the agency has requested consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service to assess threats to protected plants and animals posed by at least a dozen pesticides.
However, the Service has not completed its part of the consultation process on at least 11 of these pesticides.
For example, the EPA’s assessment of the impacts of the pesticide cyantraniliprole to endangered species found that the insecticide is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of 68 protected species and is likely to harm the designated critical habitat of 112 species. But the Fish and Wildlife Service has made no commitments to complete this consultation within the time frame required under the Endangered Species Act.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service can’t keep ignoring its duty to protect habitat that is critical to our most endangered wildlife and plants,” said Parent. “We had really hoped the Service would take this seriously instead of burying its head in the sand, leaving us with no choice but to sue.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.