Enviros Sue to Protect Critically Imperiled Species

The black-tailed prairie dog is one species WildEarth Guardians think needs special protection.© Encyclopedia Britannica

Last week the nonprofit group WildEarth Guardians filed suit in federal court alleging that the Bush administration has been too slow to grant Endangered Species Act protection for some 681 "critically imperiled" plant and animal species. Two direct petitions to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service went unanswered, so the group is now turning to the federal court in an attempt to force the government to follow the mandates of the Endangered Species Act.

"Tragically, 80 percent of the endangered species in the U.S. are not protected under the Endangered Species Act," says WildEarth Guardians" Nicole Rosmarino. "Under the Bush administration, one of the biggest threats facing species on the brink of extinction is the very agency that is supposed to be protecting them—the Fish and Wildlife Service."

The Guardians are among the many environmental voices accusing the Bush administration of "running out the clock" on its environmental responsibilities—not just on endangered species but on climate change as well. The two issues are closely linked, as global warming is causing wildlife habitat to shift and shrink.

Groups like WildEarth Guardians are forcing the issue now, but most environmentalists are waiting and hoping that the next administration will have a more forward-thinking outlook.

"We need to elevate the pace on obtaining federal protection for our nation’s wildlife and plants," says Rosmarino. "Too many species are slipping through the cracks as the extinction crisis escalates."

Sources: Wild Earth Guardians; MSNBC

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