From Endangered to Extinct: 21 Species Disappear From US Endangered List

Oct 25, 2023

Share of Plant and Animal Species at Risk of Extinction Worldwide

Normally, a plant or animal being removed from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) would be seen as a triumph. But not this month. The little Mariana fruit bat, flat pigtoe mussel, and Bachman’s warbler are among the 21 species dropped from the list last week. It wasn't due to rising numbers, but extinction.

Martha Wells is a director at US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Wells said in a press release, “Federal protection came too late.” She noted that we mark 50 years of the ESA this year. She added: "We are reminded of the Act’s purpose to (stop) the journey toward extinction." She said the utmost goal is to recover these species, so they no longer need the Act to survive.

A few of the species still have living members in zoos. But all have either not been observed in the wild for years or lack enough breeding adults to stage a comeback. In total, the newly extinct species include 10 birds, eight mussels, two fish, and one mammal. Their natural habitats range from Hawaii and Guam to Texas. 

USFWS officials stated that human actions led to the extinctions. Humans cause habitat loss and introduce invasive species and diseases that threaten vulnerable animals.

The ESA was adopted in 1973. It has proven vital in guarding wildlife as a whole, the USFWS notes. More than 100 species have dropped off the list due to population recovery, rather than extinction.

Reflect: What do you believe are the main challenges in preserving endangered species, and what role can individuals and communities play in helping to protect and recover these species?

Based on the information in the infographic, which of the following categories is the LEAST at risk of extinction worldwide? (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. sharks and rays
b. mammals
c. conifers
d. reef corals
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