Nearly 100 endangered species should be on track to meet federal scientists’ recovery goals, according to a new analysis by a national nonprofit organization that seeks to protect the planet’s biological diversity.
The Center for Biological Diversity’s review examined population trends of 110 endangered plant and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in every state across the USA, including Florida’s American crocodile, the gray wolf of the Rockies, and the black-footed ferret, which once existed from southern Canada to Texas.
The group found that 90 percent of the species listed are on a positive trajectory toward recovery — and some are even doing better.
Kierán Suckling, executive director of the group, said that they found ESA success stories in every state in the country. “No other law in the world has done so much to rescue species from the brink of extinction and put them on a path to recovery.”
The Center’s study analyzed population data from the year each was placed on the ESA list through 2011. Researchers compared actual population trends and trajectories to the timeline for recovery set by government plans.
The report, which relies on data from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and independent scientists, is a rebuttal to attacks on the ESA by Representative Doc Hastings, R-Washington, chairman of the US House Committee on Natural Resources, who claimed the ESA is “failing badly” at protecting and preserving biologically diversity. He alleged that only 1 percent of species have been recovered.
The report said that 80 percent of the species listed on the ESA have not been on it long enough to reach projected goals.
“Saving species from the brink of extinction — and bringing them back to a point where they’re going to survive into the future — can’t happen overnight,” Suckling said. “Calling the Act a failure at this point is like throwing away a 10-day prescription of antibiotics on the third day and saying they don’t work. It just makes no sense.”
Among the Center’s finding are a number of notable success stories — the most notable being the Aleutian Canada Goose.
The Aleutian Canada Goose was once nearly driven extinct by foxes introduced to its nesting islands in Alaska and by habitat destruction and hunting. After a small population was found on a remote island in the Aleutians, the goose got immediate endangered status (1967).
Once nonnative fox populations were controlled and nesting, wintering and migration habitats were protected, the species began to grow from 790 birds in 1975 to more than 60,000 in 2005. It was down-listed to “threatened” in 1990, and removed from the endangered list in 2001, seven years earlier than the projected recovery date.
Other success stories belong to species including the whooping crane, shortnose sturgeon, Florida manatee, red wolf, Maguire daisy, apache trout, bald eagle, and many more. To see the full recovery profiles of the 110 species, and an interactive map, go to www.ESAsuccess.org.