This plant, these animals could be added to the Endangered Species Act

This plant, these animals could be added to the Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday said it had found “substantial information” in petitions that eight animals and a plant should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

The agency is set to initiate status reviews for the betta hendra, betta rutilans, Hickory Nut Gorge green salamander, pygmy rabbit, Railroad Valley toad, Southern Plains bumble bee, southwest spring firefly, white-margined penstemon and yellow-spotted woodland salamander. There are currently more than 1,300 species listed as either endangered or threatened in the U.S. under the Endangered Species Act.

Pygymy rabbit
The pygymy rabbit is the smallest rabbit species in North America.

USFWS/A. LaValle


Animals receive certain protections when the species is listed under the Endangered Species Act, including federal agencies being required to ensure their actions are unlikely to jeopardize listed animals, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Endangered Species Act, enacted in 1973, establishes protections for fish, wildlife and plants that are listed as threatened or endangered.

What are the species being reviewed? 

The Fish and Wildlife Service is considering adding the Southern Plains bumble bee to the Endangered Species Act. Populations of bee species around the world have faced devastating declines for years. The large Southern Plains bumble bee, identified by its short hair and short head, lives in open prairies, meadows and grasslands of the Midwest, mid-Atlantic states, and the Plains states from Texas to North Dakota. The bee species also lives in the grasslands and pine savannas of Florida and the Southeast, according to the wildlife service.

Historically, the bee has been found in 26 states, but it’s disappeared completely from six states, according to the petition to list the bee species. The population is declining because of threats to its habitat and health.

Southern Plains bumble bee
Petitioners say the Southern Plains bumble bee should be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

USGS


A species of firefly — the southwest spring firefly — may also be at risk. The species is native to Arizona and is threatened by potential habitat destruction.

The wildlife agency is also revising the status of the pygmy rabbit, the smallest species of rabbit in North America. Adults weigh under a pound, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s threatened by increasing wildfires and a new form of rabbit hemorrhagic disease. The species largely lives in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, California, Nevada and Utah.

Two types of freshwater fish, the betta hendra and the betta rutilans, are also under review along with two types of salamanders, the Hickory Nut Gorge green salamander and the Yellow-spotted woodland salamander. The Fish and Wildlife Service is also reviewing the status of the Railroad Valley toad, which is one of the smallest of the western toad species. 

Only one type of plant, the white-margined penstemon, is being reviewed. It’s a rare species in the Mojave Desert. The white-margined penstemon has pink to purple petals. 

In 2019, scientists warned that worldwide, 1 million species of plants and animals were at risk of extinction.

Aliza Chasan

Aliza Chasan is a digital producer at 60 Minutes and CBSNews.com. She has previously written for outlets including PIX11 News, The New York Daily News, Inside Edition and DNAinfo. Aliza covers trending news, often focusing on crime and politics.

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