Group Petitions for Protection of Hundreds of Imperiled U.S. Species

A coalition of enviro groups, scientists, and artists petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday to add 225 species to the official federal list of endangered and threatened species. The 225 are now on a candidate list that affords them no protection. It was, by a wide margin, the largest listing petition filed since such citizen requests were authorized under the Endangered Species Act in 1982 (the act itself passed in 1973). The move was designed in part to draw attention to the dysfunctional listing process that has plagued the agency for years, but has grown more acute, critics say, under the Bush administration. The species have been on the candidate list for an average of 17 years. FWS officials estimate it would cost $153 million to list all the species. “You can’t just go to Congress and ask for $153 million to clear up the backlog,” said the agency’s Betsy Lordan. “You’d get laughed at.” The coalition included the Center for Biological Diversity and science luminaries Jane Goodall, E. O. Wilson, and Paul Ehrlich.