Endangered Species Roundup

Endangered Species Roundup

Emma Bryce
Published: 02/11/2013

 

A wolverine in Dakota County, Minnesota. Photo by guppiecat / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It’s as good a time as ever to think about endangered species. The Fish and Wildlife Service currently faces a backlog of several hundred - from moths to gophers, chickens, and fish – that are awaiting potential listing under the Endangered Species Act. Recently, the agency announced its plan to tackle this creature collective - just another piece of news on the endangered species front, where stories have abounded over the last few weeks. From the wolverine to the whooping crane, all kinds of furry and feathered creatures scampered across our radar. Here are some highlights:

 

Temporary Limbo

Creatures that are being considered for listing.

 

- Wolverine

The wolverine may have a reputation as a “flesh-ripping hellion” (a misconception OnEarth recently picked apart), but evidence that it has few defenses against climate change has spurred federal wildlife managers to propose listing the mammal as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act. An estimated 250 to 300 live in the United States. The Fish and Wildlife Service points out that North American wolverine populations were decimated by a history of hunting, poisoning, and trapping in the 1800s. While their numbers rose after some protections were put in place, climate change adds an additional threat. Mothers den in deep snow instead of tunneling underground, and are therefore dependent on thick, dense snowfall that coats the landscape until mid-May each year when the young are weaned. But climate modeling shows that wolverines will become increasingly restricted by shrinking patches of snow, as temperatures warm. The FWS will accept public comments until May 2013, and plans to make a decision by February next year.  

- Coral

A cluster of boulder star coral. Photo by National Marine Sanctuaries / CC BY 2.0

Coral—the miniscule creatures that build their tiny castles in calcium-carbonate scaffolding on the seafloor—are next to take the limelight, as the NOAA holds public hearings on whether or not to protect a number of species in the Pacific and the Caribbean. The Boulder Star, Pillar Coral, Rough Cactus, and Elliptical Star are just a few of the 66 species that will be held up for listing as either threatened or endangered. The Center for Biological Diversity calls it the most sweeping move made in favor of reef life. Following a year of devastating news on coral reefs—from the Caribbean’s coral die-off, to the worrying state of the Great Barrier Reef—it does seem a good time to question the status of these ocean blooms. Until November 2013, when NOAA will make a decision based on public comments gathered from regions where the species exist, the status of these 66 coral species is up in the air.

- The Prairie Grouse

Photo by jerryoldnettel / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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