PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An environmental group filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging the federal government has failed to act on petitions to protect nine different species under the Endangered Species Act and failed to designate critical habitat for 11 others.
The complaint covers species from Oregon to Delaware and asks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make decisions on the species after years of delays.
The Center for Biological Diversity previously sued over more than 200 species waiting for protection decisions. The group says the average waiting period for an imperiled species to get federal protection is 12 years, and 47 species have gone extinct waiting.
“The Endangered Species Act is incredibly successful at saving species from extinction, but only if they’re provided its protections in the first place,” he said. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s listing program is broken and badly in need of reform.”
Spokespeople from Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Interior declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Included in the complaint are species from across the U.S. with sometimes fanciful names that are teetering on the brink of environmental disaster.
The beardless chinch weed, for example, is a perennial in the sunflower family. But there are only 387 individual plants left growing in the United States among oak woodlands and desert grasslands in Arizona. It has been proposed for a listing under the Endangered Species Act, but the federal government did not take action to finalize the listing in the required time period, Greenwald said.
The Franklin’s bumble bee in Oregon, the Hermes copper butterfly in California and the Sierra Nevada red fox are other species in that category, he said. The Franklin’s bumble bee hasn’t been seen in the wild since 2006.