Fish and Wildlife Service Delists 21 Species from the Endangered Species Act due to Extinction

Bachman’s Warbler – Public Domain Image

Staff report written from press release

Bloomington, Indiana – October 18, 2023

In a move that underscores the dire consequences of human activity on the planet’s biodiversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday the delisting of 21 species from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to their confirmed extinction. This decision comes after meticulous assessments of the best available scientific evidence for each of these species, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Most of these 21 species, which were originally listed under the ESA in the 1970s and 1980s, were already dwindling or possibly extinct when they received federal protection.

Service Director Martha Williams said, “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. 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.”

The decision to delist these species stems from a proposal made in September 2021, which sought to delist 23 species due to extinction. Following extensive public commentary on the proposal, the Service has withdrawn the delisting proposal for one species, Phyllostegia glabra var. lanaiensis, a Hawaiian perennial herb in the mint family. New surveys have identified potential suitable habitats for this species, raising hope for its conservation. Notably, the ivory-billed woodpecker, initially included in the delisting proposal, remains under review, with further analysis required to determine its fate.

The extinction of these 21 species highlights the critical role of the ESA in preserving biodiversity and the urgency of conservation efforts before species’ declines reach an irreversible stage. The circumstances surrounding each of these extinctions underscore how human activities, such as habitat loss, overuse, and the introduction of invasive species and diseases, have driven these species to their demise.

This announcement coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, which has been instrumental in preventing the extinction of 99% of the species listed under its protection. Over the years, more than 100 species of plants and animals have been successfully delisted due to recovery or reclassified from endangered to threatened status, while hundreds of other species are now stable or improving thanks to collaborative efforts involving Tribes, federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations, and private citizens.

The final rule to delist the 21 species due to extinction is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on October 17, and it will take effect 30 days after publication. Additional information regarding the final rule is available at http://www.regulations.gov/ by searching under the docket number specified in the table below.

Species being delisted due to extinction:

MAMMALS

  • Little Mariana fruit bat (GU – Guam), Listed 1984, Last Confirmed Sighting 1968, Docket Number: FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104

BIRDS

  • Bachman’s warbler (FL, SC), Listed 1967, Last Confirmed Sighting 1980s, Docket Number: FWS–R4–ES–2020–0110
  • Bridled white-eye (GU – Guam), Listed 1984, Last Confirmed Sighting 1983, Docket Number: FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
  • Kauai akialoa (HI), Listed 1967, Last Confirmed Sighting 1960s, Docket Number: FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
  • Kauai nukupuu (HI), Listed 1970, Last Confirmed Sighting 1899, Docket Number: FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
  • Kaua’i ʻōʻō (HI), Listed 1967, Last Confirmed Sighting 1987, Docket Number: FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
  • Large Kauai thrush (HI), Listed 1970, Last Confirmed Sighting 1987, Docket Number: FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
  • Maui ākepa (HI), Listed 1970, Last Confirmed Sighting 1988, Docket Number: FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
  • Maui nukupu’u (HI), Listed 1970, Last Confirmed Sighting 1996, Docket Number: FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
  • Molokai creeper (HI), Listed 1970, Last Confirmed Sighting 1963, Docket Number: FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
  • Po`ouli (HI), Listed 1975, Last Confirmed Sighting 2004, Docket Number: FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104

FISH

  • San Marcos gambusia (TX), Listed 1980, Last Confirmed Sighting 1983, Docket Number: FWS–R2–ES–2020–0105
  • Scioto madtom (OH), Listed 1975, Last Confirmed Sighting 1957, Docket Number: FWS–R3–ES–2020–0106

MUSSELS

  • Flat pigtoe (AL, MS), Listed 1987, Last Confirmed Sighting 1984, Docket Number: FWS–R4–ES–2020–0107
  • Southern acornshell (AL, GA, TN), Listed 1993, Last Confirmed Sighting 1973, Docket Number: FWS–R4–ES–2020–0107
  • Stirrupshell (AL, MS), Listed 1987, Last Confirmed Sighting 1986, Docket Number: FWS–R4–ES–2020–0107
  • Upland combshell (AL, GA, TN), Listed 1993, Last Confirmed Sighting mid-1980s, Docket Number: FWS–R4–ES–2020–0107
  • Green-blossom pearly mussel (TN, VA), Listed 1984, Last Confirmed Sighting 1982, Docket Number: FWS–R4–ES–2020–0108
  • Tubercled-blossom pearly mussel (AL, IL, IN, KY, TN, MI, OH, WV), Listed 1976, Last Confirmed Sighting 1969, Docket Number: FWS–R4–ES–2020–0108
  • Turgid-blossom pearly mussel (AL, AR, TN), Listed 1976, Last Confirmed Sighting 1972, Docket Number: FWS–R4–ES–2020–0108
  • Yellow-blossom pearly mussel (AL, TN), Listed 1985, Last Confirmed Sighting 1966, Docket Number: FWS–R4–ES–2020–0108

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