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These 21 Species Are Coming off the Endangered Species Act, Because They’re Extinct

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced it is delisting 21 species from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). While this may initially seem like a cause for celebration, it’s really quite the opposite. The species are being delisted because USFWS has determined that they are now officially extinct and, therefore, they no longer need protection under the ESA. All 21 species were formerly found in the U.S. and its territories.

In a press release, USFWS said this determination is “based on rigorous reviews of the best available science for each of these species.”

USFWS also points out that most of the 21 species were listed in the 1970s and 80s, and their populations weren’t in good shape at that time, either. It’s possible some of them already were extinct at the time of their listing.

Nevertheless, the announcement is a reminder about the importance of federal protection for species that are teetering on the edge of extinction. Service Director Martha Williams called the announcement “a wake-up call on the importance of conserving imperiled species before it’s too late.” 

The ESA celebrates its 50th year in 2023. Its goal is to be a “safety net” that stops species from going extinct. Unfortunately, in the case of these 21 species, it appears the ESA protections were simply too late.

Here are species being delisted due to extinction:

MAMMALS

  1. Little Mariana fruit bat

BIRDS

  1. Bachman’s warbler    
  2. Bridled white-eye     
  3. Kauai akialoa
  4. Kauai nukupuu
  5. Kauaʻi ʻōʻō
  6. Large Kauai thrush
  7. Maui ākepa
  8. Maui nukupuʻu
  9. Molokai creeper
  10. Po`ouli

FISH

  1. San Marcos gambusia
  2. Scioto madtom

MUSSELS

  1. Flat pigtoe
  2. Southern acornshell
  3. Stirrupshell
  4. Upland combshell
  5. Green-blossom pearly mussel
  6. Tubercled-blossom pearly mussel
  7. Turgid-blossom pearly mussel
  8. Yellow-blossom pearly mussel
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