21 Animals & Plants In The U.S., Including 8 Native Hawaiian Birds, Have Gone Extinct

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a rule yesterday removing 21 species from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act because they have sadly gone extinct.

The extinct species include eight of Hawaiʻi’s precious honeycreepers, the bridled white-eye and little Mariana fruit bat of Guam, a Texas fish, nine southeastern mussels and the Bachman’s warbler. They join the list of 650 U.S. species that have likely been lost to extinction.

“My heart breaks over the loss of these 21 species,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These plants and animals can never be brought back. We absolutely must do everything we can to avert the loss of even more threads in our web of life.”

In a single bright spot, the agency retained protection for one Hawaiian plant species because it may still survive. It also delayed removal of the ivory-billed woodpecker based on scientific disagreement over its extinction.

Scientists from around the world warn that the planet is at risk of losing more than a million species in the coming decades if swift action isn’t taken to protect more of the natural world, stop exploitation of species, address climate change, reduce pollution, and stop the spread of alien invasive species.

The Hawaiian birds declared extinct today are a case in point. Their forest habitats were razed by development and agriculture. The introduction of mosquitoes to the islands, which are not native and carry both avian pox and avian malaria, provided the nail in the coffin. Now, several other native Hawaiian birds are on the brink of extinction, including the ʻakikiki, which is down to as few as five pairs in the wild. Mosquitoes are able to reach further up into the bird’s mountain habitat due to climate change.

“Few people realize the extent to which the crises of extinction and climate change are deeply intertwined,” said Greenwald. “Both threaten to undo our very way of life, leaving our children with a considerably poorer planet. One silver lining to this sad situation is that protecting and restoring forests, grasslands, and other natural habitats will help address both.”

All food and most medicines come directly from plants and animals. Species also form the building blocks of ecosystems, which purify air and water, pollinate crops, cycle nutrients, moderate climate and more. Every lost species threatens to unravel ecosystems, and in the process, reduce the services they provide.

“It’s not too late to stop more plants and animals from going extinct, but we have to act fast,” said Greenwald.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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