WASHINGTON— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied endangered species protection today to six species from around the country, including an imperiled bee and the Siskiyou Mountains salamander. The agency was responding to petitions from the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups.
The Trump administration has now declined protection for more than 60 species and protected only 18 — the lowest of any president at this point in his administration.
“Even as we suffer an extinction crisis and a climate emergency, the Trump administration continues to serve only narrow corporate interests,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center. “By shooting down protections for these imperiled plants and animals, Trump officials are displaying contempt for America’s natural heritage. This president is a threat to the future of endangered species and humans around the globe.”
Today’s denials come on the heels of sweeping Trump administration changes to the Endangered Species Act. Finalized on Aug. 12, the changes make it harder for species to gain protection, weaken habitat protections for listed species, and disregard climate change entirely.
The species denied protection today are all at risk from corporate activities. They include two trees threatened primarily by climate change; a freshwater mussel threatened by fossil fuel development; a salamander threatened by logging of old-growth forests; and a bird and bumblebee threatened by industrial agriculture, pesticide use and climate change.
The brook floater is a freshwater mussel from the eastern United States that has lost more than half its range to dams, water pollution, oil and gas development, logging and mining. It is particularly threatened by fracking and climate change.
The Siskiyou Mountains salamander lives in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon and Northern California, primarily in old-growth forests. It is threatened by U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management plans to increase logging.
California’s tricolored blackbirds have declined by nearly 90 percent since the 1930s because of destruction of wetlands and grasslands, pesticide use that wipes out their insect prey base and loss of nest sites during agricultural operations.
The seaside alder lives in riparian and marshy areas in Delaware and Maryland, where it’s threatened by salt-water intrusion via sea-level rise due to climate change. A separate population in Oklahoma is threatened by cattle grazing.
WildEarth Guardians petitioned for protection of Joshua trees due to threats from climate change. Climate models predict up to a 90 percent range contraction by 2100.
And Defenders of Wildlife petitioned for protection of yellow-banded bumblebees in 2015 due to habitat loss to development and harm from pesticides.
During the Obama administration, 360 species were protected under the Endangered Species Act. Under Clinton 523 species were protected, while 232 species were protected under Bush, Sr., 62 species under Bush, Jr., and 254 under Reagan.
Three species were determined to no longer be genetically valid entities, including the golden orb, smooth pimpleback and Arapahoe snowfly.