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Government calls for change to help endangered species

RSWhite-tailed_Ptarmigan_Peter Plage_USFWS
Pete Plage/USFWS
Center for Biological Diversity
Mount Rainier White-tailed Ptarmigan was proposed for protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2021. It's an alpine bird that is a possible candidate for introduction outside its historical range under a proposed change to the ESA.

News brief

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a regulation change under the Endangered Species Act that would allow some species to be introduced outside their historical ranges.

With more flexibility some endangered and threatened species could be moved to other suitable habitats.

Noah Greenwald, the endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, says the main driver for the proposal is climate change.

“It’s sort of recognizing that we’re changing the world so fast that species are going to essentially be left high and dry — where they currently occur will no longer be suitable for them. If we want to save them, we’re going to need to move them,” he said.

Greenwald supports the proposal but says the government must be cautious. Assisted migration, whether intentional or not, can lead to the spread of disease, like a deadly fungus.

A United Nations report says about a million species of animals and plants are at risk of extinction, many in the coming decades.

“The growing extinction crisis highlights the importance of the Endangered Species Act and efforts to conserve species before declines become irreversible,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland in a news release.

You can comment on the proposed regulation change until August 8 online or by mail.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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