Lawsuit launched over delaying endangered species protection for 11 species

Today, the Center for Biological Diversity announced its intent to file a lawsuit against the US Fish and Wildlife Service to delay critically needed Endangered Species Act protections for 11 endangered plants and animals. Species range from the Puerto Rican clown butterfly and Suwannee alligator turtle to a rare wetland wildflower found only in Arizona and Mexico.

Combined with the service’s failure to make decisions on 66 species in fiscal 2021, delays in protecting these 11 species highlight ongoing problems in the agency’s listing program that put plants and animals at increased risk. These persistent problems include politically motivated decisions, hampered bureaucracy, and a loss of scientific ability.

The Fish and Wildlife Service must be on the front lines in the battle to stop the extinction crisis. “Instead, it’s mired in bureaucracy and politically motivated decision making,” said Noah Greenwald, the center’s director of endangered species. “Delays in protection have real consequences, leading to further decline and even extinction. It is heartbreaking that this agency does not appear to be bringing them together to make timely protection decisions.”

The lawsuit notice errs in service for unlawful delays to protect endangered species of the Arizona Iringo turtle, Wright’s bog thistle, Puerto Rican clown butterfly, round walnut, Madtum freckle, sickle, White Park pine, Suyan alligator turtle, Slex spot turtle, lobster, Big Creek. St Francis River lobster.

The Fish and Wildlife Department has always struggled to provide timely protection for the species. The Endangered Species Act requires the entire process of species listing and critical habitat designation to take two years. But on average, it took 12 years to serve, in many cases decades to protect the species. At least 47 species became extinct just waiting for the service to act.

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Arizona eryngo It is a rare wetland wildflower of the carrot family. It can reach over 5 feet tall and has large, globular, cream-colored flowers. There are only four surviving Arizona Iringo groups in Arizona and Mexico. She previously lived in New Mexico but has now disappeared from that state. The rare flower grows only in a certain type of perennially wet spring habitat called Cienega. Cienegas is a type of wetland unique to the southwest that provides homes for fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and migratory birds within the arid landscape. More than 95% of Cienega’s habitat has been lost. The Arizona Earingo is at risk of immediate disappearance due to overuse of groundwater, livestock grazing, invasive species and climate change.

swamp thistle It is a wetland plant found in New Mexico that requires alkaline, waterlogged soil, full sun, and a variety of nearby plants to attract pollinators to the thistle itself. Swamp thistle has historically been found in southern Arizona and in Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico. Now it is only found in eight widely separated locations in southern New Mexico. The swampgrass is threatened by livestock grazing, non-native vegetation, and water diversion. It is also threatened by oil and gas spills from drilling and mineral mining, municipal and agricultural depletion of groundwater and drought.

Puerto Rican clown butterfly It is a small dark brown butterfly with black and dark orange markings. The butterfly uses the prickly bush as a host plant for laying eggs and as a food source for the larvae. The butterfly is only found in the Mariaco Commonwealth Forest and coastal cliffs in a small area in Quebradillas. The Mariako Commonwealth Forest was hit hard by Hurricane Maria and is still recovering. The butterfly is under threat from urban sprawl and increasingly severe hurricane seasons.

round nut It is a 2.5-inch, semi-perfectly round mussel with a greenish-olive shell and yellow stripe. It lives in the Great Lakes, in the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Lower Mississippi river basins in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The round coconut has lost 78% of its population. It is threatened by water pollution from urbanization, agriculture, oil and gas drilling and pipelines, coal mining and coal-fired power plants. They are also threatened by agglomeration, increased stream temperatures and storms caused by climate change.

Abdominal freckles It is a stout catfish with bold patterns up to 4 inches in length that lives in medium and large rivers with clean pebbles in the Pearl River and mobile ponds in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. Madtoms are known for their parental care, building cavities for nests under a variety of features by moving the substrate with their heads or mouths. The population of the upper Coosa River in Madtom is unstable, with pollution from agriculture and urban sprawl leading to extinction. It is also threatened by climate change.

scythe my lord It is one of the recently identified freshwater fish. It’s large by a much thinner standard, measuring nearly 5 inches in length. It has larger scales than other dirt and a prominent black stripe on its side. In Tennessee, there are scythes in the Emory, Little, and Sikachi rivers. These populations are separated from those of the Alawites, Middle River and North Fork Holston in Virginia. Rabbit sickle has been eliminated in North Carolina. They are threatened by the silt that fills the spaces between the rocks at the river bed and which fish need to lay eggs and find prey. It is also threatened by water pollution from agriculture, as well as logging, mining, and the dams that separate its inhabitants.

White Park Pine It lives in high altitudes across Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada. Its seeds provide food for grizzly bears and a host of other species. But white pine dies quickly from white pine blister rust, an introduced disease. It is also severely threatened by climate change, which encourages a wide spread of mountain pine beetles, which kill pines and allow competing tree species to dominate their towering habitats.

Suwannee crocodile biting turtle It is a prehistoric tortoise that can grow up to 200 pounds and can live nearly 100 years. These slow-moving giants, largely sedentary, spend much of their time sitting on river beds waiting for food that grows algae on their shells. They use a worm-like protrusion on their tongues to attract prey. It has no natural enemies and once thrived throughout the southeastern United States, from the Midwest to Florida and Texas. However, its population has decreased by up to 95% over most of its historical scale due to overharvesting and unchecked habitat degradation. The turtle is also easy prey for fishermen who feed the burgeoning global markets for the supply and consumption of turtles.

Chili pepper Sagebrush is a flowering plant found only in southwestern Idaho. It lives on the Sneak River Plain, the Oihe Plateau and the adjacent hills. There are only about 90 instances of peppergrass on Earth, and most of them are in degraded, low-quality habitats. The spotted pepper grass has the highest known exclusion rate of any plant in Idaho. It is threatened by agriculture, mining, urban sprawl, livestock grazing and invasive species.

Big Creek lobster and lobster on the St. Francis River Two distinct species of freshwater crustaceans are found in the upper watershed of the Saint Francis River upstream of the Wapapello Dam in southeastern Missouri. They are threatened by non-native forest crayfish, which can replace and mate with native crayfish. Big Creek lobsters are also threatened by heavy metal pollution in waterways from mining.

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