Over 20 animals are being removed from the endangered species list because they are now extinct, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday.
The species include a type of fruit bat, two species of fish, eight types of mussels and 10 types of birds. Eight of the 21 species were native to Hawaii.
Most of them were listed under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s and 1980s, and were very low in numbers or likely already extinct when they were listed, according to the service. Many haven’t been seen in the wild since that time.
"Federal protection came too late to reverse these species' decline, and it's a wake-up call on the importance of conserving imperiled species before it's too late," Service Director Martha Williams said.
Two other species were also outlined in the original delisting proposal due to extinction — a Hawaiian perennial herb and an ivory-billed woodpecker — but were withdrawn because further analysis is needed.
The government agency said these latest extinctions highlight the importance of efforts to conserve species, and “underscore how human activity can drive species decline and extinction by contributing to habitat loss, overuse and the introduction of invasive species and diseases.”
There are about 1,500 species listed as either endangered or threatened in the United States under the Endangered Species Act. Some species get removed from the list because they’re considered extinct while others are removed because their populations have improved.
“As we commemorate 50 years of the Endangered Species Act this year, we are reminded of the Act’s purpose to be a safety net that stops the journey toward extinction. The ultimate goal is to recover these species, so they no longer need the Act’s protection,” Williams added.
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