PORTLAND, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity and San Francisco Baykeeper sued the Trump administration today for failing to protect eight highly imperiled species across the country under the Endangered Species Act, including Oregon’s North Coast population of the red tree vole. The tree voles have been devastated by logging and historic fires.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined the tree vole and the other seven species warrant protections but has failed to actually provide them. A recent U.S. Forest Service study found that North Coast voles have declined by roughly 80 percent and are immediately threatened by clear-cut logging on state and private lands.
“Further delay of protection for this unique population of tree voles is a death sentence,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director. “The Endangered Species Act is incredibly effective, but the Trump administration is stalling safeguards that could pull species back from the brink of oblivion.”
Red tree voles are considered the most arboreal mammal in North America. They live nearly their entire lives in trees, which makes them highly vulnerable to logging and fires.
The North Coast population was found to warrant protection in 2011 largely because of logging by the state of Oregon in the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests, which comprise a large fraction of the animal’s range. Despite this finding, the Oregon Department of Forestry has taken no action to protect the tree vole or its habitat.
Under the Endangered Species Act, the agency can delay protection for species like the tree vole, but only if it is making "expeditious progress" listing other species, which is not currently the case.
To date, the Trump administration has listed only 17 species under the Endangered Species Act — the fewest protected by any administration in its first two years since the Reagan administration. By comparison, the Obama administration listed 72 species and the Clinton administration listed 196 during their first two years.
The other species included in the lawsuit, which was filed in federal district court in San Francisco, are the longfin smelt, Hermes copper butterfly, Sierra Nevada red fox, red tree vole, eastern gopher tortoise, Berry Cave salamander, Puerto Rico harlequin butterfly and a large flowering shrub called marrón bacora.