Organization Asks Government to Speed Up Approval of Foreign Species on Endangered Species List

The Center for Biological Diversity told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, and other associated individuals in a letter on Thursday that it intends to file a lawsuit against them for not placing 19 foreign species on the endangered service list which the Center claims meet the requirements to be on the list. 

According to the letter, the Service found that the listing for the 19 different species “is ‘warranted’ but nonetheless ‘precluded’ by other priorities and that the Service is making expeditions progress to list or delist other foreign species.” The Center for Biological Diversity purported that this is a violation of the Endangered Species Act, and that the government agencies should have published a proposed rule for the 19 species in this category. 

Reportedly, the Endangered Species Act says that if the Service determines a listing is warranted, but precluded they are required to publish that finding and the related evaluation it was based on.  That determination would then be subject to a judicial review, and would be treated as a resubmitted petition and addressed again. The letter alleged that “despite clear threats to these foreign species’ existence, the Service has failed to actually propose (Endangered Species Act) protections, as required by law.” 

The Center for Biological Diversity said it hopes the Biden administration will “drastically hasten the pace of listing foreign species,” and that if action has not happened to correct the issues in 60 days that it will attempt to force the Service to move quickly by filing a lawsuit in federal court. 

In a press release, the Center explained that some of the species have been on a “‘candidate’ waiting list” but have remained unprotected for more than 30 years. One of the 19 species is a clam, 13 are birds, and five are butterflies. The Service reportedly said in the federal register in August that the animals merit protection under the Endangered Species Act. 

“Perpetuating the Trump administration’s snail pace of protecting foreign wildlife is unacceptable for the Biden administration in this global extinction crisis,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center in the press release. “Beautiful, unique butterflies and birds are facing extinction without the protection of the Endangered Species Act, and we won’t sit by while they languish on a government waitlist. At least 20% of wildlife in trade goes to the United States so it’s imperative we don’t trade them into oblivion.”

The Endangered Species Act reportedly already covers about 600 foreign species. When a foreign species is listed, the government uses resources to increase awareness and provide financial aid to help save the species, it also bans their sale or import.