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Alert! Endangered Animals Dying Out Because of Goverment Delays

Aug 26, 2016 04:00 AM EDT

Endangered creatures need protection as soon as possible to keep the numbers from dwindling even further. It's not happening though, and the Center for Biological Diversity is taking action against the delays.

New Study Exposes Delays in Protection

According to a report from Mongabay, a new study published in Biological Conversation revealed that endangered species end up waiting to be listed and up for protection for an average of 12 years -- about six times longer than they are supposed to. A number of species even ended up being processed for about 38 years.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects species at risk of extinction. However, before animals are part of protected species, they must first be listed as threatened or endangered. The 1982 amendment states that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FSW) are afforded a two-year timeline for the listing process.

The study included data from 1,338 species between 1973 and 2014. The research team also discovered that there was evidence of bias: vertebrates tend to get processed faster than invertebrates and flowering plants.

"Listing is the first step in the ESA," Emily Puckett, lead author, explained. "The faster this process occurs, the sooner a species gains access to the immediate protections afforded by listing (protection from take and trade and consultation). But more importantly, the species is now eligible for having critical habitat designated, a recovery plan written, and recovery funds allocated."

Previous studies have estimated at least 42 species have gone extinct between 1973 and 1995 because of listing delays.

Advocacy Group to Sue FWS for Delays?

A press release from Biological Diversity reported that the Center for Biological Diversity has already filed a formal notice for their intent to sue the FWS over the agency's failure to list and protect over 417 animals and plants in the "12-month finding" period.

Most of these hundreds of species were petitioned between 2008 and 2010. The list includes the Florida sandhill cranes, coastal flatwood crayfish and eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, among many others.

"Delayed protection can be deadly for species already on the brink of extinction," Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center, said. "The longer we wait, the more difficult -- and expensive -- it becomes to save them. Simply put, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to be acting more quickly to decide which species will be protected so the recovery process can begin."

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