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Extinction Countdown

Should Humpback Whales Be Removed from the Endangered Species List?

humpback whale

Have decades of protection allowed the endangered humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) to recover? That’s the question asked this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). On Monday the agency proposed removing most of the species’s population sites from the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Specifically, NOAA proposes a change in the [...]

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Extinction Countdown

How Zoos Acquire Endangered Species

orangutan bob oregon zoo

How do you transport two young orangutans to a zoo thousands of kilometers away from their native lands? Here’s the simple answer: FedEx. Here’s the less simple answer: It’s a lot of work. Meet Bob and Kumar Kumar and Bob are in playful moods on the rainy morning that I see them at Oregon Zoo [...]

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Extinction Countdown

With Just 6 Delta Smelt Left, Controversial California Fish Species Faces Impending Extinction

delta smelt

Are we about to witness the extinction of the controversial delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus)? The most recent survey for the tiny fish, over which decades of battles over water rights have been fought, counted just four females and two males. The announcement came just days after a NASA scientist warned that drought-stricken California only has [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Mexican Wolves Finally Get Endangered Species Status

mexican wolf

North America’s smallest and rarest wolves will finally have the full protection of the Endangered Species Act. Well, almost. Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) nearly went extinct 40 years ago. After decades of hunting and persecution the last five wild members of the subspecies were rounded up in 1973 and placed in an emergency [...]

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Extinction Countdown

As Sea Ice Disappears, Arctic Ringed Seals Could Get Largest Critical Habitat Ever

arctic ringed seal

Arctic ringed seals (Phoca hispida hispida) could soon get a critical habitat more than twice the size of California within the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Under rules (pdf) proposed this week by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the seals could have more than 900,000 square kilometers of protected waters. The seals were declared threatened [...]

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Extinction Countdown

African Lions Face Extinction by 2050, Could Gain Endangered Species Act Protection

lion

The African lion (Panthera leo leo) faces the threat of extinction by the year 2050, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe warned today. The sobering news came as part of the agency’s announcement that it has officially proposed that African lions receive much-needed protection under the Endangered Species Act. The decision to list [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Mysterious Flying Squirrel Could Get Endangered Species Protection

San Bernardino flying squirrel

The squirrels gliding amid the mountains east of Los Angeles have been, for the most part, flying under the scientific radar. There has never been a single scientific paper published specifically about the San Bernardino flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus californicus), even though hundreds of papers about squirrels in general are published every year. Despite this [...]

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Extinction Countdown

This Massive Squirrel Has Been Saved from Extinction

Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel

It only took about half a century, but the once-rare Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) now has a healthy population once again, placing it in a position to finally leave the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). If that happens, this giant squirrel—which can reach an astonishing 75 centimeters in length—would join just [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Endangered Manatees Face a New Threat: Lawsuits

manatee

What do manatees and bureaucracy have in common? They both have a tendency to move slowly—sometimes painfully slowly. In Florida manatees’ own lethargy puts the animals at risk of being killed or injured by the speedboats that zip through the state’s waterways. Sluggish bureaucracy, meanwhile, has created an opportunity for groups who oppose the manatees’ [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Pygmy Sloths Could Gain Much-Needed Endangered Species Protection

pygmy three toed sloth

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) last week announced that the world’s rarest and smallest sloth could deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act (pdf). The Pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) lives only on the tiny Isla Escudo de Veraguas off the coast of Panama and is probably one of the rarest mammals in [...]

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