In response to litigation over the listing status of the polar bear, the
government is arguing that only species facing an "imminent" danger of
extinction can be listed as endangered. This narrow definition is contrary
to language of the Endangered Species Act, inconsistent with the current
list of threatened and endangered species, and will limit protections for
species known to be at risk of extinction.
The Endangered Species Act defines an endangered species as "any species
which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of
its range," and a threatened species as "any species which is likely to
become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or
a significant portion of its range." Under this definition, any species
that is in danger of extinction properly qualifies as "endangered."
Many species currently considered endangered do not arguably face an
imminent risk of extinction. For example, the critically imperiled yet
long-lived North Atlantic right whale is properly classified as
"endangered," even though actual extinction under current trends is likely
many decades away. Requiring extinction to be "imminent" prior to listing a
species like the North Atlantic right whale as "endangered" will result in
many such species being denied "endangered" status until they are already
committed to extinction, a result clearly at odds with the intent and
purpose of the Endangered Species Act.
Please consider signing onto a letter to Secretary of Interior Salazar,
requesting that he not change the definition of endangered under the
Endangered Species Act to require species to face an imminent risk of
extinction before qualifying as endangered. To find further information and
sign the letter, please visit
http://action.biologicaldiversity.org/p ... m_KEY=8097.
Noah Greenwald, M.S.
Endangered Species Program Director
Center for Biological Diversity