Lawsuit Seeks Endangered Species Protection for 24 Species Trump Administration Left Behind

WASHINGTON April 18, 2019 – The Center for Biological Diversity today sued the Trump administration and newly confirmed U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt for failing to make protection decisions for 24 species of animals and plants under the Endangered Species Act.

The list of wildlife left without protection includes the elfin-woods warbler, Franklin’s bumblebee and tricolored blackbird. They are among hundreds of species awaiting decisions about whether to be protected under the Endangered Species Act or to receive protected critical habitat.

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A 2016 work plan developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is updated annually, called for decisions on all 24 species by the end of fiscal year 2018. But Bernhardt and the Trump administration are preventing the agency from doing its job of protecting at-risk species.

“The refusal to protect these 24 imperiled species offers 24 more reasons why David Bernhardt will be a terrible Interior secretary,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director. “Bernhardt and the Trump administration’s highest priorities are corporate profits. They’re not interested in protecting wildlife like the Franklin’s bumblebee and others that are on the brink of extinction.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service has long struggled to provide timely protection to species.  The entire process of listing species and designating critical habitat is supposed to take two to three years. But on average it has taken the Service 12 years, and in many cases decades, to protect species. At least 47 species have gone extinct waiting for protection.

Delays in protection of species have been extensive under Bernhardt, first when he was the top Interior lawyer under the George W. Bush administration and then with the Trump administration as Interior’s deputy secretary.

The Clinton administration, for example, put an average of 65 species on the endangered list each year, while the Bush administration only listed 62 species total over the course of eight years. With 16 species listed so far, the Trump administration is heading toward a similarly poor performance, despite a backlog of more than 500 species waiting for protection decisions.

“If we’re going to save species from disappearing forever, we have to act quickly to give them the legal protection they need,” said Greenwald. “The Trump administration is completely out of step with the American public, which overwhelmingly supports protecting species that are at risk of extinction. David Bernhardt needs to let the Fish and Wildlife Service do its job.”

The agency developed the workplan to address more than 500 species awaiting 12-month findings, which is how determinations of whether protection is warranted are made.

Each year the agency also creates a workload scheduling additional findings that need to be made, including final listings and designation of critical habitat. All the findings included in today’s notice were part of the 2016 work plan or the workloads for fiscal years 2017 and 2018, but were not made as scheduled.

Species Included in Today’s Lawsuit

Species Name Scientific Action Type Fiscal Year Scheduled Range
Beardless chinch weed Pectis imberbis 12-month FY18 AZ
Bartram stonecrop Graptopetalum bartramii 12-month FY18 AZ
Round hickorynut Obovaria subrotunda 12-month FY18 AL, AR, GA, IL, IN, KY, MI, MS, OH, PA, TN, WV, Canada
Tricolored blackbird Agelaius tricolor 12-month FY18 CA, OR, WA, NV
Panamint alligator lizard Elgaria panamintina 12-month FY18 CA
Seaside alder Alnus maritima 12-month FY18 DE, GA, MD, OK
Brook floater Alasmidonta varicosa 12-month FY18 CT, DC, GA, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, VA, VT, WV, Canada
Purple lilliput Toxolasma lividus 12-month FY19 AL, AR, IL, MI, MO, IN, TN, VA
Pink pigtoe Pleurobema rubrum 12-month FY18 AL, AR, KY, LA, MS, NE, OH, OK, TN, VA
Longsolid Fusconaia subrotunda 12-month FY18 AL, AR, GA, IL, IN, KY, NC, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV
Clam-shell orchid Encyclia cochleata var. triandra 12-month FY18 FL
Cape Sable orchid Oncidium undulatum 12-month FY18 FL
Big Cypress epidendrum Epidendrum strobiliferum 12-month FY18 FL
Elk River crayfish Cambarus elkensis 12-month FY18 WV
Elfin-woods warbler Setophaga angelae Critical Habitat FY17 Workload PR
Black pine snake Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi Critical Habitat FY18 Workload MS, LA, AL
Western glacier stonefly Zapada glacier Critical Habitat FY17 Workload MT, WY
Meltwater lednian stonefly Lednia tumana Critical Habitat FY17 Workload MT, WY
Miami tiger beetle Cicindelidia floridana Critical Habitat FY17 Workload FL
Suwannee moccasinshell Medionidus walkeri Critical Habitat FY18 Workload FL
Florida bristle fern Trichomanes punctatum ssp. Floridanum Critical Habitat FY18 Workload FL
Slickspot peppergrass Lepidium papilliferum Critical Habitat FY17 Workload ID
Franklin’s bumblebee Bombus franklini 12-month FY18 OR
Yellow-banded bumblebee Bombus terricola 12-month FY18 CT, IL, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MT, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SD, TN, VA, VT, WV, WI, Canada

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.