The US Fish and Wildlife Service has formalized the extinction of the ivory-billed woodpecker, 10 other species of birds, as well as mussels, bats and plants. This is the first time that so many species have been declared extinct in a single report since the publication of the Endangered Species Act in 1973.
Since then, only 11 species have been declared extinct, 48 have gone from threatened to threatened and 54 have been removed from the list because their populations have recovered.
The woodpecker inhabited the south of the country, had black and white plumage, with a red crest on males, and measured about 19 inches. Since 1967 it has been classified as endangered due to the disappearance of the forests where they lived and the capture of these birds for collectors, although the last time it was seen in the wild it was was in 1944 in Louisiana. While in 2004 and 2005, expert birders claimed to have seen a specimen of this species in a swampy area of Arkansas, members of the federal government and other scientists searched for it for years, but it didn’t there was no way to verify the discovery.
Likewise, the other species on the list ceased to be seen from the mid-20th century until the 1980s, such as the San Marcos gambusia fish which was last seen in the San Marcos River in Texas in 1983. , and disappeared due to pollution in the river.
But why does it take so long to declare a species extinct?
Scientists take the research and tracking of endangered species very seriously and it takes decades to conclude that a certain species is definitely no longer breeding and could be seen again.
According to the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service statement, the organization “has determined that these species are extinct,” and although most of the 23 species have not been seen in decades, the report “highlights how activity human can lead to species decline and extinction, contributing to habitat loss, overexploitation and the introduction of invasive species and disease. “
This report came at the time of an order from President Joe Biden restoring protections for migratory birds that had been lost under the Trump administration. Trump’s decision prevented businesses and landowners from having legal consequences if their activities unintentionally killed birds.
This protected, among other things, oil companies in the event of an oil spill or other businesses if a bird was killed by crashing into a building, power lines or communication towers.
The report drew mixed reactions among experts and environmentalists. Home Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement that “with climate change and loss of natural habitat, more and more species are on the brink of extinction, so it’s time to be more proactive and innovative in efforts to save American wildlife “.