From bees to giraffes and wolves to manatees, a new report from an environmental group says Trump administration proposals would weaken the Endangered Species Act.
Some of the most at-risk species include giraffes, red wolves, sea turtles, California condors and West Indian manatees.
“The Interior Department under President Trump has been especially cozy with the industries that are harming the very wildlife the department is supposed to protect,” said Leda Huta of the Endangered Species Coalition, which prepared the report.
Other animals on the list include rusty patched bumble bees, hellbinders (giant salamanders), San Bernardino kangaroo rats, western yellow-billed cuckoos and Humboldt martens (small tree-dwelling mammals).
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the administration is about to finalize rules that would make it harder to protect imperiled wildlife and important habitat.
Now 45 years old, the Endangered Species Act was a law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, with votes of 92-0 in the Senate and 394-4 in the House. It was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
“The Trump administration is systematically dismantling this landmark legislation through policies and a set of proposed regulations that weaken existing protections and make it difficult to establish new safeguards,” the Environmental Species Coalition said in a statement.
When asked to comment about the report, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said “the Endangered Species Act has done some incredible work for conservation; however, there are actions we can take to modernize and improve the act’s implementation.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service – which is the part of the Interior Department that oversees endangered species – also said that the proposed changes “will ensure our actions are clear and consistent and provide the maximum degree of regulatory predictability to those who are affected by the act.”
Lara Levison of the environmental group Oceana said “from the largest animal ever to live on earth – the blue whale – to the tiny creatures that build coral reefs, the Endangered Species Act protects a spectacular array of ocean life. Sea turtles have been swimming the world’s oceans almost 100 million years, but now the Trump administration’s proposals to weaken the ESA threaten their very survival.”
Of the 10 species, all but three – giraffes, hellbinders and Humboldt martens – are currently on the Endangered Species List, Huta said.
Other environmental groups advocated separately for other animals on the list. Steve Holmer of the American Bird Conservancy expressed concern about cuckoos: “Water diversions, housing developments and pesticide spraying on fields near breeding habitat continue to endanger the remaining birds.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council’s Elly Pepper said “it’s hard to picture an African landscape without the image of willowy giraffes galloping across the savanna. Our country is partly responsible for their demise because we regularly import giraffe parts used for bone carvings, apparel and hunting trophies.
“The Trump administration must help prevent this activity by listing these iconic creatures under the Endangered Species Act, or face partial responsibility for their extinction,” she said.
Huta said all species could be in peril. “If the Trump administration has its way, the new regulations will put these species on a fast track to extinction.”
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