The ivory-billed woodpecker, along with 22 other bird, fish, mussel, and wildlife species, is set to be declared extinct and removed from the endangered species list, according to US wildlife officials on Wednesday.
“The protections of the (Endangered Species Act) came too late for the species proposed for delisting today, with most either extinct, functionally extinct, or in steep decline at the time of listing,” the US Fish and Wildlife Service said.
Bachman’s warbler, two species of freshwater fish, eight species of Southeastern freshwater mussels, and 11 species from Hawaii and the Pacific Islands are also on the list to be delisted.
“Each case also demonstrates how human activity can contribute to species decline and extinction by contributing to habitat loss, overuse, and the introduction of invasive species and disease. Climate change’s increasing impacts are expected to exacerbate these threats and their interactions “According to the wildlife agency.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland emphasized the importance of taking action to prevent extinction and protect biodiversity.
“With climate change and natural area loss pushing more and more species to extinction, now is the time to mobilize proactive, collaborative, and innovative efforts to save America’s wildlife,” Haaland said in a statement on Wednesday. “The Endangered Species Act has been extremely effective in preventing species from becoming extinct, as well as inspiring action to conserve at-risk species and their habitat before they need to be listed as endangered or threatened.” We will continue to provide states, tribes, private landowners, and federal agencies with the resources they need to protect America’s biodiversity and natural heritage.”
Experts were not surprised that the species placed on the extinction list had not been seen in decades.
More concerning, Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said, are species on the wildlife agency’s waiting list for protection. She is particularly concerned about the monarch butterfly. It was not added to the federal endangered species list in December, and it will not be considered again until 2024.
“It means the population could crash if there is no protection,” Curry said, noting that climate change, higher temperatures, and pesticide use are all threatening the butterfly’s migration pattern and food sources. “It’s well-liked; it was once common.”
According to her, climate change is making already difficult conditions for some declining species even more difficult.
Curry stated, “Climate change endangers life on Earth.”
“We must combat both climate change and biodiversity loss. Climate change receives far more attention than extinction, but extinction is a major issue.”
According to the agency, the proposal to delist the 23 species announced on Wednesday will be open for public comment until the end of December.
According to a US Fish and Wildlife Service press release, nearly 3 billion birds have been lost in North America since 1970.
According to the American Bird Conservancy, the ivory-billed woodpecker was never considered a common bird because it relied on large Southern swamps with plenty of space and food to thrive. The woodpecker became scarce as its habitat began to disappear as a result of uncontrolled logging. According to the conservancy, it was frequently shot by hunters and collectors, which likely contributed to its extinction.
According to John Fitzpatrick, emeritus director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the last positively confirmed sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker in the United States was in Louisiana in the 1940s. However, there have been unconfirmed reports of sightings and grainy video of the bird dating back to the early 2000s in eastern Arkansas.
“In my opinion, it’s far too soon for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to declare the bird extinct officially because the bird may still exist,” he told reporters. “Having rock solid evidence that something is extinct is the point of declaring it extinct.”
During the comment period, Fitzpatrick and other ornithologists will petition the wildlife agency to remove the bird from the extinction list, he said.
“I’m hoping they’ll look at it again and say, ‘We can actually pull this back for another decade or two,'” Fitzpatrick said. “We continue to believe it is worthwhile to look for this bird.”