02:00 PM

List of candidates for endangered status grows again


  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) yesterday released its Candidate Notice of Review, the annual list of plants and animals being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
  • For each candidate species, the USFWS has gathered enough information to show that it warrants protection under the ESA. However, these species have not received ESA protection because the USFWS has focused on listing other species that it considers to be of higher priority. Plants and animals receive no protection while they remain on the candidate list.
  • There are now 251 species recognized by the USFWS as candidates for listing under the ESA. Many candidates, such as the red knot, Kittlitz’s murrelet and New England cottontail have remained under consideration for years without being approved for federal protection.
WASHINGTON (11/11/2010) -

The following is a statement from Bob Irvin, senior vice president for conservation programs at Defenders of Wildlife:

“The Endangered Species Act is crucial for protecting imperiled wildlife. But while securing a place on the candidate list means that an animal or plant may be in need of protection, it doesn’t actually provide them any protection. Like patients in an overcrowded emergency room, species on the candidate list continue to deteriorate while waiting for care. The Fish and Wildlife Service needs the resources to enable it to follow through and provide the protections so critical to preventing extinction.

“A growing candidate list also demonstrates the importance of conserving wildlife before listing becomes necessary. The 251 species now under consideration for federal protection are glaring reminders that we can and should do more to safeguard our valuable natural resources.”


Wildlife languishing on the candidate list includes:

• Red knot: Defenders petitioned to emergency list this migratory shorebird in 2005. The dramatic decline of red knot populations stems mainly from the shortage of horseshoe crab eggs historically found on Delaware Bay beaches. More stringent regulation of the harvest of horseshoe crabs is needed. In addition, red knot feeding and resting habitat is threatened by rising seas resulting from global climate change throughout the red knot’s extraordinary migration between the far north of Canada and the southern tip of Patagonia.

• Kittlitz’s murrelet: This species breeds near glaciers and feeds where glaciers meet the sea, both of which are being impacted by climate change. Measures to assist the murrelet’s adaptation to climate change, as well as reducing greenhouse gas pollution that cause climate change, are needed.

• New England cottontail: New England cottontails have declined dramatically in recent decades and they may be found in less than 15% of their historic range. The most likely causes are habitat loss and fragmentation. Stronger protection and restoration of the cottontail’s habitat is needed.  


Learn more about the Endangered Species Act.

See how Defenders is working to protect imperiled and endangered species


Caitlin Leutwiler, (202) 772-3226, cleutwiler@defenders.org