U.S. Officials Believe 23 Species To Be Extinct

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its belief that 23 species—11 birds, 8 freshwater mussels, 2 fish, 1 bat, and 1 plant—should be declared extinct. The species have been searched for exhaustively, and scientists believe that most were either extinct or very close to extinction by the time the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973.

The most well-known of the species was the ivory-bill, which was considered the largest woodpecker in the United States. Many of the species were believed to be lost due to human-related changes, such as habitat loss and the spread of invasive species, such as mosquitos, into island habitats (11 of the listed species were from Hawaii and Guam). A 60-day public comment period began on September 30 to allow anyone to provide more information on the species before the ‘extinct’ categorizations are finalized. 

The world is experiencing a major loss in biodiversity, as humans ruin habitats with damming, mining, logging, farming, and development. Global warming is causing changes in temperatures, which also affects species’ survival capabilities. A 2019 United Nations study found that human activity has put as many as 1 million plant and animal species at risk of extinction and caused a 20% decline in the abundance of biodiversity, mostly in the past century.