The Obama Administration is working to quickly make Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decisions for hundreds of plants and animals, some of which have been on a “candidate species” waiting list for 25 years. This designation offers no legal protection for the species in question, and is intended to be temporary. However, nearly 100 species have been on the ESA waiting list in excess of 10 years and 73 species in excess of 25 years, according to recent news reports.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Department of the Interior agency responsible for managing endangered species, has said that it is working on accelerating its listing process, and can hopefully cut this “candidate” list by 25 percent by the end of 2010. The new FWS approach is twofold. First, the agency is putting more money into the endangered species program. The budget has doubled since early in the Bush administration, going from $9 million in 2002 to $19 million in fiscal year 2009. Second, FWS intends to clear up the backlog by using a sweeping, ecosystem-based approach to listing that could address many species once. This approach would cluster multiple species from a single ecosystem into a single ESA listing.
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