For Immediate Release, July 20, 2023
Stephanie Kurose, (202) 849-8395, firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Invests $5.1 Million to Save Endangered Butterflies, Fish, Plants, Mollusks
WASHINGTON— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it is providing $5.1 million to fund crucial conservation work for some of the most critically imperiled plants and animals in the nation.
These targeted funds will provide urgently needed on-the-ground conservation actions to stabilize and save four groups of endangered species at greatest risk of extinction: butterflies, freshwater mussels, desert fish, and Hawaiian and Pacific Islands plants.
“I’m thrilled the Service is finally addressing the historic funding shortfalls for these animals and plants that have been struggling to survive for so long,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ve been fighting for years to ensure these unique and often overlooked species remain part of our natural heritage. This initial investment provides a much-needed lifeline to these species that have slipped through the cracks.”
According to the Service, the funding will support recovery for 36 projects that benefit more than 580 species listed under the Endangered Species Act, including the Hermes copper butterfly, Texas hornshell, Apache trout and the last individual of a tree species known as håyun lågu in Guam.
Many of the animals and plants that will benefit from this funding typically receive no money for their recovery. A 2016 study found that Congress only provides approximately 3.5% of the estimated funding Fish and Wildlife Service scientists say is needed to recover species.
Since 2019 Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) have introduced the Extinction Prevention Act, which would establish four grant programs that each provide $5 million per year to these same four groups of species.
“It’s heartening to see our leaders acknowledge that more needs to be done to stem the wildlife extinction crisis and save life on Earth,” said Kurose. “This life-saving funding is the perfect way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act.”
North American butterflies
Of all the endangered species in the United States, butterflies are one of the fastest-declining groups, with several species on the verge of extinction. The Mount Charleston blue butterfly, Miami blue butterfly and Lange’s metalmark, for example, all have worldwide populations of fewer than 100 individuals. These and other species would benefit from captive propagation and habitat restoration well beyond what is currently occurring.
Southeast freshwater mussels
North America has the highest diversity of freshwater mussels in the world, but unfortunately much of this diversity is threatened. Freshwater mussels are the most endangered group of organisms in the United States; 70% are at risk of extinction and 38 species have already been lost.
Southwest desert fish
The Southwest’s unique fish — found nowhere else on Earth — have been decimated by a century of habitat degradation and non-native fish introductions. More than 45 desert fish species are either endangered or threatened, and most have experienced drastic reductions in abundance and range.
Hawai‘i has more endangered species than any other state, including more than 400 plants that make up one-quarter of all species protected under the Endangered Species Act. Many of these plants are barely hanging on in remote, difficult-to-reach cliffs and ravines where they are safe from human development and non-native species. This funding would help support programs like the Hawaiian Plant Extinction Prevention Program.
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.