A painting of ivory-billed woodpeckers. Source: John James Audubon, “Birds of America”
The US Fish and Wildlife Service said it will announce 23 bird and fish extinctions on Wednesday as the ravages of climate change and human-made habitat destruction continue unabated.
It’s a rare decision for scientists to completely lose hope, but the government agency said it has exhausted all means to save the animals.
Perhaps the best-known of the newly extinct species was the American Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a striking bird native to the Southeastern United States but which has not been seen in the country since 1944.
“Little is gained and much is lost,” putting the animals on the extinction list, said Cornell University bird biologist John Fitzpatrick.
“Such an iconic bird and representative of the major old-growth forests of the southeast, keeping it on the endangered species list, keeps attention on it, prompts states to think about habitat management it still exists, ”he added. .
All 23 species were thought to have a chance of survival when they were listed as endangered, but pollution, logging, poaching and invasive species have made their changes miniscule.
The group, which also includes a freshwater mussel called the flat pig, now joins some 900 species documented as extinct around the world. Scientists have warned that we are on the verge of a catastrophic extinction event if we don’t cap global warming at 1.5 ° C.
This article was first published by DW.