Endangered species
list is criticized

A group of scientists wants to add
hundreds of plants and animals,
many from Hawaii

TUCSON, Ariz. » Scientists including noted wildlife biologist Jane Goodall have joined environmental groups in petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to add 225 plants and animals to the endangered species list. Nearly half are in Hawaii.

The species are not new to the agency; four-fifths have been on the agency's waiting list for a decade. Some species have been on the "warranted but precluded" list since 1975. The average is 17 years.

Goodall, known for her pioneering research on chimpanzees, signed the petitions Tuesday, joined by other prominent scientists including biologists E.O. Wilson, of Harvard University, and Paul Ehrlich, of Stanford University.

"Wildlife is facing serious threats almost everywhere," Goodall said in a statement. But she said the Bush administration seeks to undermine the Endangered Species Act.

"Some species have been on the federal waiting list for more than 20 years, and more than 30 species have become extinct or missing while waiting for protection," she said.

Robert Hass, former poet laureate of the United States, said it is not too late to save the 225 plants and animals "languishing on the federal candidate list. It's time to open the doors of the ark and let them in."

Eleven individuals and three environmental organizations filed the petitions, said Brian Nowicki, a conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, which organized the effort.

But a spokesman for the U.S. Interior Department accused the Tucson-based group of misrepresenting the realities of the endangered species program in recent years. Spokesman Hugh Vickery attributed a decline in listing new species to "a flood of lawsuits" filed by the center and other plaintiffs since 1997.

The litigation requires Fish and Wildlife to designate critical habitat for species already listed and diverts resources and staff from listing new species as endangered, he said.

The 225 species listed in the petitions are in 39 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana and Northern Mariana islands and American Samoa.

The 107 from Hawaii include the band-rumped storm petrel, anchialine pool shrimp, several species of damselflies and the Lanai tree snail.

Others include Alabama's black pine snake, California's Coachella Valley round-tailed ground squirrel, Utah's Aquarius paintbrush plant and Puerto Rico's elfin woods warbler. Fish and Wildlife has declined to list them as endangered, deferring to other species considered higher priority or more endangered, Nowicki said.

More than 1,200 species have been placed on the endangered list since the Endangered Species Act became law in 1973, Nowicki said. The Bush administration has listed only 31 species as endangered, in contrast to an average of 65 a year by the Clinton administration and 59 a year under the first President Bush.

In 2003, Fish and Wildlife estimated that some $153 million would be needed to meet the backlog existing then of obligations for listing and critical habitat, the center said.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --