Nearly two dozen species are now considered gone forever, with another almost two dozen added to the endangered species list this year.
A total of 21 species were delisted from the endangered species list this year due to extinction.
“Most of these species were already on the brink of extinction before they were protected and they went extinct decades ago, but they were just officially delisted this year,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Ten of the removed species were birds.
“Eight of them were from Hawaii and they were lost to extinction because of introduced predators and disease and development,” she said.
“The other species that were lost, eight of them were freshwater mussels. Freshwater mussels are the most endangered group of organisms in the United States,” Curry said.
The Mariana fruit bat and Guam bridled white-eye were also on the list.
Additionally, 23 species were added to the endangered species list this year.
“The most popular species that was proposed for Endangered Species Act protection this year is the wolverine,” Curry said.
Wolverines need snowpack to den, which Curry said is being impacted by climate change.
Other species added to the list include the Whitebark Pine and Sacramento Mountains Checkerspot Butterfly.
This month marks the 50th year of the Endangered Species Act. The act was passed Dec. 28, 1973, with bipartisan support as a response to declining populations of many species.
“It was a different era … there was a great deal of faith in the law to protect the environment, and the act itself I think really reflects that faith,” said Cary Coglianese, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Penn Program on Regulation.
The law allows petitions to be made for specific species. The petitions go through scientific evaluation and public review before it is decided whether a species will be protected under the act.
“The hammer kind of comes down when a species is listed, and it can impede private economic development, therefore it has generated certainly many successes,” Coglianese said.
Some of the successes of the act include the bald eagle and the Florida panther.
“One of the most historic and amazing Endangered Species Act moments was reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park, where that species is an integral part of the ecosystems, benefiting many other species such as the grizzly bear, migratory birds, beaver, aspen trees, and many other forms of vegetation,” William Snape, a professor and assistant dean at the American University Washington College of Law, wrote to Scripps News in an email response.
“99 percent of the species on the endangered species list are still here, and that's an amazing victory because before species are added to the list, they are in so much trouble. They are on the brink of extinction,” Curry said.
@scrippsnews The Endangered Species Act turned 50 today. The act was passed in 1973 with bipartisan support as a response to declining populations of many #species. In 2023, 23 species were added to the endangered species list. #EndangeredSpecies ♬ original sound - Scripps News
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com