Conservationists have issued a grave warning about the state of America’s wildlife.
A new report has found that one-third of wildlife species in the United States are at increased risk of extinction, with everything from butterflies and fish to large mammals facing threats.
According to the latest estimates, roughly 500 species once found in the country have not been seen in decades, and are now feared extinct.
A new report has found that one-third of wildlife species in the United States are at increased risk of extinction, with everything from butterflies and fish to large mammals facing threats. The Swift fox, for example, has disappeared from 60 percent of its historic Great Plains range
‘America’s wildlife are in crisis and now is the time for unprecedented on-the-ground collaboration,’ said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.
‘Fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates are all losing ground. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to prevent these species from vanishing from the earth.
‘Recovering wildlife is a win-in-win: strengthening our economy, improving public health, and making communities more resilient.’
The worrying new figures released by the National Wildlife Federation, the American Fisheries Society and The Wildlife Society are based on status assessments led by NatureServe.
According to the report, over 150 species in the US have gone extinct, and one-third are now facing heightened risks.
Freshwater fish, for example, have been hit particularly hard.
Pollinators have been hit hard, too – and not just bees. The report warns monarch butterfly populations have plummeted in the US, dropping by 90 percent in just the last two decades
The researchers say roughly 40 percent of freshwater fish in the United States are now ‘rare or imperiled.’
And, 70 percent of freshwater mussels in North America are extinct, or in danger of extinction.
Pollinators have been hit hard, too – and not just bees.
The report warns monarch butterfly populations have plummeted in the US, dropping by 90 percent in just the last two decades.
Over the same amount of time, 30 percent of North America’s bat species have declined. Bats have been reeling from a fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome, which has killed millions in recent years.
WHAT IS THE STATE OF THE EARTH’S SPECIES?
– Two species of vertebrate, animals with a backbone, have gone extinct every year, on average, for the past century.
– Currently around 41 per cent of amphibian species and more than a quarter of mammals are threatened with extinction.
– There are an estimated 8.7 million plant and animal species on our planet and about 86 percent of land species and 91 percent of sea species remain undiscovered.
– Of the ones we do know, 1,204 mammal, 1,469 bird, 1,215 reptile, 2,100 amphibian, and 2,386 fish species are considered threatened.
– Also threatened are 1,414 insect, 2,187 mollusc, 732 crustacean, 237 coral, 12,505 plant, 33 mushroom, and six brown algae species.
– The global populations of 3,706 monitored vertebrate species – fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles – declined by nearly 60 per cent from 1970 to 2012.
– More than 25,000 species of 91,523 assessed for the 2017 ‘Red List’ update were classified as ‘threatened’.
– Of these, 5,583 were ‘critically’ endangered, 8,455 ‘endangered’, and 11,783 ‘vulnerable’.
‘I have spent more than three decades looking at how wildlife in the United States are faring,’ said Bruce Stein, PhD, chief scientist and associate vice president of the National Wildlife Federation.
‘Although there have been some great conservation successes, many of our species continue to decline, and we are seeing the emergence of major new threats to America’s wildlife.
‘It’s time to make sure that the scale of our conservation efforts match the scope of this problem.’
But, the researchers say the news isn’t all bad.
In two decades, 30 percent of North America’s bat species have declined. Bats have been reeling from a fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome, which has killed millions in recent years
Conservation efforts in the past have led to huge improvements in some populations, such as Colorado’s Canada lynx, New England cottontail rabbits.
‘Wildlife in America needs help,’ said John McDonald, PhD, president of the Wildlife Society.
‘Species are increasingly at risk in all regions of the country and across all categories of wildlife.
‘This decline is not inevitable. Wildlife professionals in every state have action plans ready to go to conserve all wildlife for future generations, but we need the funding to turn this situation around.’