21 Species Declared Extinct, Removed from ESA Protection

The recent announcement (ref) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, declaring the extinction of 21 species previously listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing battle for biodiversity conservation.

This action, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the ESA, brings both a somber reflection on losses and a renewed urgency for environmental action.

A Deeper Look Into the Extinct: Species by Species

The table below provides detailed insights into the 21 species that have tragically slipped away into extinction. This list includes a range of species from mammals and birds to fish and mussels, each with its unique story of decline.

The details include their last known habitats, the years they were listed under the ESA, their last confirmed sightings, and the docket numbers for reference.

Species NameFound (Location)Listed (Year)Last Confirmed SightingDocket Number
Little Mariana fruit batGU (Guam)19841968FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
Bachman’s warblerFL, SC19671980sFWS–R4–ES–2020–0110
Bridled white-eyeGU (Guam)19841983FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
Kauai akialoaHI19671960sFWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
Kauai nukupuuHI19701899FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
Kauaʻi ʻōʻōHI19671987FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
Large Kauai thrushHI19701987FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
Maui ākepaHI19701988FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
Maui nukupuʻuHI19701996FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
Molokai creeperHI19701963FWS–R1–ES–2020–0104
San Marcos gambusiaTX19801983FWS–R2–ES–2020–0105
Scioto madtomOH19751957FWS–R3–ES–2020–0106
Flat pigtoeAL, MS19871984FWS–R4–ES–2020–0107
Southern acornshellAL, GA, TN19931973FWS–R4–ES–2020–0107
StirrupshellAL, MS19871986FWS–R4–ES–2020–0107
Upland combshellAL, GA, TN1993mid-1980sFWS–R4–ES–2020–0107
Green-blossom pearly musselTN, VA19841982FWS–R4–ES–2020–0108
Tubercled-blossom pearly musselAL, IL, IN, KY, TN, MI, OH, WV19761969FWS–R4–ES–2020–0108
Turgid-blossom pearly musselAL, AR, TN19761972FWS–R4–ES–2020–0108
Yellow-blossom pearly musselAL, TN19851966FWS–R4–ES–2020–0108

The Lost Birds of Hawaii: A Tragic Tale of Disappearance

Diamond Head State Monument hawaii
Image Credit: Maridav/DepositPhotos.

Among these 21 species, the story of the Hawaiian po’ouli (Melamprosops phaeosoma) or black-faced honeycreeper (ref) stands out.

Last seen in 2004, this bird symbolizes the fragility of island ecosystems. The extinction of eight endemic birds from Hawaii, including the po’ouli, underscores the unique challenges faced by island species, vulnerable to habitat loss and invasive species.

Climate Change & Its Role In Wildlife Extinction

Akikiki: Image Credit: VisualVanguard/Shutterstock.

The interplay between climate change and extinction cannot be overstated. As Noah Greenwald from the Center for Biological Diversity points out, the crises of extinction and climate change are deeply intertwined, threatening to leave our planet poorer for future generations.

The catastrophic wildfires in Maui, decimating the critically endangered `Akikiki’s population (ref), is a glaring example of this deadly synergy.

The Endangered Species Act: A Legacy of Conservation

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a crucial piece of legislation that has acted as a safety net for countless species.

While the recent delistings are disheartening, the ESA’s overall track record is impressive, credited with saving 99% of listed species from extinction. The Act has seen over 100 species recover enough to be delisted or downgraded in threat level.

Reflecting on the Loss & Looking Forward

As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues its work in conservation, the loss of these 21 species serves as a poignant reminder of the consequences of delayed action and the critical need for proactive conservation measures.

The ESA’s 50-year legacy of preventing extinction and promoting wildlife recovery is a testament to what can be achieved through collaborative efforts. However, the journey is far from over, and the need for continued vigilance and commitment to conserving our planet’s biodiversity has never been more urgent.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.