10 Endangered Species Especially Threatened by the Trump Administration
EcoWatch has long documented attempts by the Trump administration's Interior Department to weaken Endangered Species Act protections, but what does that mean for individual species? That is the question the Endangered Species Coalition set out to answer in a new report, which outlines how President Donald Trump's proposed policies could impact 10 vulnerable animal species.
"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," Endangered Species Coalition Executive Director Leda Huta told the Natural Resources Defense Council. "If the administration has its way, the new regulations will put these species on a fast track to extinction."
The report, published Tuesday, looks at how the administration's proposed weakening of the Endangered Species Act, as well as existing policies, would harm the 10 species. The featured animals were chosen by a group of scientists from a pool of nominations submitted by Endangered Species Coalition member groups. Here is just some of the amazing biodiversity now at risk.
1. California Condor
The California condor is the largest land bird in North America, with a wingspan stretching 10 feet. It is also critically endangered, with fewer than 300 left in the wild. The greatest cause of death for the condor in the wild is lead poisoning from tainted carrion, which kills more condors than all other causes combined. That is why it is so catastrophic that former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke rolled back an Obama-era rule banning lead ammunition in condor habitat.
2. Leatherback and Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Both of these migratory sea turtles are extremely vulnerable to climate change and could lose their nesting grounds to sea level rise and storm surges. However, new language around climate change proposed by the Interior Department could make it harder to protect habitat threatened by it. One provision would allow other agencies to take actions in areas that the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded will be lost to climate change anyway without consulting the agency responsible for protecting endangered species.
3. Red Wolves
Red wolves are extremely endangered. Less than 30 remain in their only wild habitat in North Carolina. But a new regulation could allow for them to be delisted all together on the basis of new information, even though scientists have yet to make any conclusive determinations about their genetics.
The hellbender, a type of salamander, is the largest amphibian outside of Asia. It is a major health indicator for the streams it lives in, since its health suffers in polluted water. It is under consideration for endangered species status, but a regulation allowing officials to consider economic as well as scientific factors could mean that it does not make it onto the list. Industries like logging, mining and fossil fuel extraction might argue it would cost them too much not to pollute streams.
Giraffes have lost 30 percent of their population in 30 years, but the Trump administration has ignored a petition to afford them endangered species protections. Instead, Zinke's Interior Department has created an International Wildlife Conservation Council that promotes trophy hunting, putting large African mammals like giraffes further at risk.
6. Humboldt Marten
Humboldt martens were believed extinct until 1996, and now there are fewer than 400 left in the wild. But the Trump administration only proposed listing them under the Endangered Species Act when the court ordered them to, and then proposed listing them only as threatened. Threatened and endangered species used to receive the same protections under the act, but the Trump administration has proposed to change this, meaning the rare mammal might not get the protections it needs to survive.
7. Rusty Patched Bumble Bee
This bee was the first to be listed as endangered after it disappeared from nearly 90 percent of its historic range. But new administration regulations would prioritize protecting habitat that species currently occupy, meaning it would be harder to protect the bee's historic range in order to help it recover.
8. West Indian Manatee
The West Indian manatee is especially threatened by the rise in red tides, algae blooms and pollution, but the Trump administration has downgraded them from endangered to threatened. Manatees also live in scattered populations throughout their range, but new regulations would mean that an impact to an endangered or threatened species only has to be considered if it occurs throughout the animals' range, so a pollutant impacting one population pocket but not another would not be considered.
9. San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat
These four-inch, hopping rodents get all of their moisture from certain plants and have their reproduction stimulated by certain amounts of green vegetation. This balance is thrown off by human development in their Southern California habitat, and Trump administration regulations that would reduce the amount of communication required between agencies ahead of new developments like roads could further throw them off balance.
10. Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
This migratory bird species is declining due to habitat loss and was listed as endangered in 2014. However, its critical habitat hasn't been designated yet, and a separate campaign is underway to delist it all together. A new Trump administration rule would facilitate this by allowing species to be delisted before meeting all the goals in their recovery plans.
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By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.