Red Wolves Are Among 10 Species Threatened By Extinction Due To Lack Of Protection By The Trump Administration, According To A New Report
As the Trump administration works to finalize a set of rules to weaken the Endangered Species Act, a new report released yesterday lists 10 animal species threatened by the administration’s existing and proposed policies.
Draft Department of Interior rules issued in July would harm these 10 declining species by making it harder to designate critical habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife and to protect species impacted by climate change. The proposed rules would also make it easier to remove listed species and reduce protections for threatened species.
Sea turtles: leatherback and loggerhead
Rusty patched bumble bee
San Bernardino kangaroo rat
West Indian manatee
Western yellow-billed cuckoo
The Animal Welfare Institute nominated the critically endangered red wolf – the most endangered canid on Earth and one of the rarest mammals. Red wolves, who once roamed throughout the southeastern United States, fell victim to intensive predator control programs and loss of habitat during the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1980, the species was declared extinct in the wild.
Members of the species were reintroduced into the wild in 1987 in North Carolina. At one point, over 130 wolves roamed the designated recovery areas.
Yet today, because of hunters who mistake red wolves for coyotes, and the politically motivated decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to abandon the recovery program, only two or three breeding pairs remain in the wild. AWI has successfully challenged the USFWS in court for its failure to protect the species.
Under the proposed regulations, the Trump administration would be allowed to justify delisting the red wolf based on any new genetic information, even though red wolf genetics are still under active scientific investigation and no scientific consensus has been reached.
Separately, in June 2018, the USFWS announced a proposal that would reduce habitat in the red wolf recovery area by 90% and allow an unlimited number of animals to be killed, without consequence, on private and state lands outside of the recovery area. It was met with near-unanimous opposition from the public, with a full 99.9% of more than 108,000 public comments preferring strong federal protection for red wolves.
“The wild red wolf population has declined by over 70% in the past four years alone, falling from approximately 100 individuals in 2014, to fewer than 30 individuals in 2018, largely due to government mismanagement,” said Johanna Hamburger, wildlife attorney at AWI. “Taken together, these proposals all but guarantee that red wolves will once again be driven to extinction in the wild in less than a decade.”
A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations and decided which species should be included in the final report. The full report contains photos and additional species information.
Scientific consensus indicates that we are in the sixth wave of extinction. The main tool in the United States to battle this human-caused crisis is the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which has been effective in keeping species from sliding into extinction.
In 2017, more than 400 organizations signed a letter to members of Congress opposing efforts to weaken the ESA, noting the law has a 99% success rate, including some of the country’s most exciting wildlife recoveries, such as: bald eagles, humpback whales, American alligators, Channel Island foxes, Tennessee purple coneflowers, and more.
Although the Trump administration and some members of Congress have attempted to weaken the ESA, public opinion research indicates that the law continues to draw broad, bipartisan, public support.
A 2015 poll conducted by Tulchin Research found that 90% of American voters across all political, regional and demographic lines support the law.