A coalition of conservationist groups have called for urgent action to address the drastic decline in American wildlife. According to the groups’ recently released report, one in three animal species in the United States is vulnerable to extinction, while one in five face a severe threat amid a serious decline in American biodiversity. “Fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates are all losing ground,” Collin O’Mara, chief executive of the National Wildlife Federation, told the Guardian. “We owe it to our children and grandchildren to prevent these species from vanishing from the earth.”

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Over 1,270 species native to the United States are listed as at-risk under the Endangered Species Act, which include such iconic creatures as the grizzly bear and the California condor. In their recent report, the National Wildlife Federation, American Fisheries Society and the Wildlife Society argued that the actual number of at-risk species is significantly higher. The difference in numbers is accounted for by the data source. While federal authorities document species on a case-by-case basis, the report relies on data from NatureServe, which determines the health of any particular species on a sliding scale.

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Some kinds of animals have fared worse than others. 40% of all freshwater fish in the United States are now endangered or at-risk while amphibian populations shrink within their known territory by 4% each year. “This loss of wildlife has been sneaking up on us but is now like a big tsunami that is going to hit us,” Thomas Lovejoy, a biologist at George Mason University who advised the report, told the Guardian. Species decline can be attributed to a variety of factors, including habitat loss, increased spread of disease, climate change, and pesticide use. The report emphasizes the need for a federal response to deal with this crisis, citing successful examples of species recovery efforts throughout the United States.

This increased threat to biodiversity is not unique to the United States. “Extinctions are ramping up, and if that continues it will be one for the history books for the whole planet,” environmental scientist Erle Ellis told the Guardian. The world is getting very humanized and I’m very concerned about the cost to biodiversity. It’s a challenge that will face us throughout this century and beyond.”

Via The Guardian

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