Environmentalists: Endangered species need protection

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Group wants Obama to make endangered plant, animal protection a priority

By Susan M. Bryan

ALBUQUERQUE — A group of environmentalists pledged Monday to file petitions and lawsuits over the next 36 days to persuade the Obama administration to make protection of endangered plants and animals a priority.

Listings under the Endangered Species Act have reached an all-time low, while the number of plants and animals that need protection is growing, said Nicole Rosmarino, the wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians.

“It amounts to a lack of will. The Obama administration and Interior Secretary (Ken) Salazar simply don’t consider endangered species protection a priority,” she said.

Environmentalists accuse the Obama administration of lagging behind previous administrations in listing species under the act. The Bush administration, for example, averaged seven listings per year over its two terms.

By comparison, only three new U.S. species were listed in 2009, while the number of species proposed for protection and those waiting on the candidates’ list stands at more than 330.

More than 1,300 U.S. species are currently listed as either threatened or endangered.

The Endangered Species Act, which was signed into law in 1973, has an excellent record in preventing extinction. Ninety-nine percent of the species protected by the act still exist today.

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