Twenty-three species are expected to drop off the Endangered Species list and into extinction. After no sightings for a long time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed delisting several birds, fish, mussels, a Hawaiian plant and the Little Mariana fruit bat.
Wildlife lovers don’t want to say goodbye to any more species. As usual, the time to act was 20 years ago, last year, yesterday. But we can still act today. “With climate change and natural area loss pushing more and more species to the brink, now is the time to lift up proactive, collaborative, and innovative efforts to save America’s wildlife,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland in a statement.
Perhaps the most eye-catching member of the newly officially extinct, the ivory-billed woodpecker was once the largest woodpecker in the U.S. It was listed as endangered back in 1967 after not having been officially spotted since 1944. Other birds to be delisted include Bachman’s warbler, a rare North American songbird and the bridled white-eye, which lived in Guam. Hawaii is being hit especially hard, losing eight bird species with small geographic ranges.
The San Marcos gambusia, a freshwater fish who lived in Texas’ San Marcos River, hasn’t been seen in the wild since 1983, thanks in part to habitat alteration. Ohio’s Scioto madtom used to live in a section of the Big Darby Creek, hiding during the day and foraging by night.
Eight different species of freshwater mussels are also proposed for delisting. Many of these lived in southern states like Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama, but the tubercled blossom pearly mussel ranged to southern Ontario, Canada. Mussels rely on rivers and streams with clean water.
Fish and Wildlife didn’t easily give up on these species. The Molokai creeper hasn’t been seen flying through Hawaiian air space since 1963, and the variety of Phyllostegia glabra var. lanaiensis, a flowering plant related to mint, has been MIA since 1914.
Have you glimpsed a stirrupshell mussel or a Large Kauai thrush? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking the public for any information, comments or data on or before Nov. 29, 2021. If no one comes forward with a reliable sighting, these 23 species will officially be declared extinct.
Lead image via James St. John