A Bad Week for Endangered Species in the U.S.

Jaguars, whales, butterflies and prairie dogs got bad news this past week.

The American jaguar may soon be a memory in America, as the Bush Administration has abandoned plans to craft a recovery plan for the rare species. Why? The official line is that there are "too few" of them to warrant recovery. Critics say that homeland security (i.e., the U.S.-Mexico border fence) is being given priority over the species' survival. Either way, the Interior Department has just guaranteed the American jaguar will go extinct in the U.S. (although its population in Central American remains somewhat healthy).

Meanwhile, I hope that the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly likes living in cramped quarters, because that's soon all they'll have available. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to reduce the species' protected habitat from 172,000 acres to less than 99,000. The Service is still evaluating things, and said it may cut another 39,000 acres before they're done. Yay.

Here's another un-sound decision: the U.S. Navy can once again use its powerful "active sonar" system to their hearts' abandon, despite scientific research and a judge's earlier rulings that the sonar hurts (and possibly kills) whales and dolphins caught in its path. That scream you just heard? That was the sound of a million marine-mammal migraines.

And finally, the Fish and Wildlife Service has delayed its overdue 90-day decision on adding the black-tailed prairie dog to the endangered species list until August (at least another 210 days), saying there are just too many other requests to protect species under the Endangered Species Act for the Service to respond to them all on a timely basis. Sadly, this statement is all too true.

Will there be better news on Extinction Blog later this week? I'd like to think so, but for some reason, I'm doubtful.

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