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23 New Species Wait for Endangered Species Act Protection

Dec 10, 2014 02:19 PM EST

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently released a new appraisal of plant and animal status, naming 23 new species that have been added to the list of candidates for Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection.

With these latest additions, there are now 146 different species that could get ESA protection in the near-future. However, it's important to note that being on this list does not necessarily mean that the named plants and animals are in immediate danger. Instead, it simply calls for closer monitoring of these species, which could be facing population declines and ecological threats that would warrant a "threatened" or "endangered" status.

Also, without that status, these species are ineligible for federal protection. However, that doesn't stop the FWS from taking action to protect them and their habitats.

"A grants program funds conservation projects by private landowners, states, and territories; and two voluntary programs ­- Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCAs) and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs) ­- engage participants to implement specific actions that remove or reduce the threats to candidate species, which helps stabilize or restore the species and can preclude ESA listing," the FWS explained on the advent of its latest candidate appraisal.

Joining the list are 18 flowering plants and four ferns found on one or more of the Hawaiian islands. The decline of these species has been largely attributed to the invasion of nonnative animals and plants, who have been eating and bullying out the flowers.

Also being added is the Ma'oma'o (Gymnomyza samoensis), a large, dusky olive-green, honeyeating bird that that lives in mature mountain forests. It once was native to Independent Samoa (Samoa), and Tutuila Island, American Samoa, but can now exclusively be found in small populations on the islands of Upolu and Savaii.

Still, while the listing of these species might make some conservationists happy, not everyone is smiling.

"Despite the Service's recent progress, imperiled species from around the country will continue to sit on the list waiting for protection due to lack of funding for all the species in need of protection," the Center for Biological Diversity wrote in a recent release. "The number of species in need of protection will continue to grow, as there is scientific consensus that Earth is in the midst of an extinction crisis."

"Citizens need to urge Congress to designate the funding for endangered species recovery that the Fish and Wildlife Service desperately needs to accomplish its goals," added Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the center. "Congress must recognize that protecting endangered species also protects public health and the long-term environmental and economic well-being of our country, which should be a fiscal priority."

 For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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