Ivory-Billed Woodpecker and 22 Other Species Declared Extinct
(Bloomberg) -- After spending years and millions of dollars searching, the U.S. has given up on locating 23 birds, fish and other species, declaring them extinct.
Federal wildlife officials said Wednesday that 11 birds, eight freshwater mussels, two fish, a bat and a plant should be declared extinct and removed from the endangered-species list. Among them are the ivory-billed woodpecker, which was the largest woodpecker north of Mexico, as well as the Hawaiian forest bird Kauai O’o and the flat pigtoe, which was a freshwater mussel.
“With climate change and natural-area loss pushing more and more species to the brink, now is the time to lift up proactive, collaborative, and innovative efforts to save America’s wildlife,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a news release.
First suspected to be extinct in the last century, ivory-billed woodpeckers were rediscovered in Arkansas in 2004. Since then, the woodpecker hasn’t been spotted, despite the U.S. Federal Wildlife Service’s allocation of at least $1.1 million to locate and recover the birds.
The ivory-billed woodpecker isn’t the first of its kind to go missing. Mexico’s imperial woodpecker, which used to be the world’s largest, hasn’t been seen since the 1950s.
Pollution, human encroachment into habitats and climate change are ravaging wildlife around the globe. As of 2019, the U.S. and Canada had nearly 3 billion fewer adult birds flying in their skies compared with 1970, a Cornell University study found. Nowadays, the North American bird population is less than two-thirds that of five decades ago, with grassland and shore birds registering the biggest drops.
To counter the biodiversity crisis, the U.S. passed the Endangered Species Act in 1974, which has helped remove 54 species from the country’s endangered list. Another 56 species have improved to threatened from endangered. Eleven have gone extinct.
Without the law, wildlife officials say many more species could have been declared extinct. On Monday, the FWS announced the relocation of nearly $80 million in grants to help protect 55 at-risk species across 13 U.S. states, with California receiving the largest injection.
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