As per a proposed federal rule change released last month, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to weaken protections for several iconic endangered species, including the whooping crane, Florida panther, and Florida Key deer. It plans to downlist the whooping crane and key deer from endangered to threatened under the federal endangered species act. Florida Panther is likely to be considered as a subspecies of other panthers in the U.S. and not worthy of endangered species status.
The proposals were part of the Biden administration’s unified agenda, a plan updated every six months and provided to the White House from various agencies.
The key deer live on a couple of islands in the Florida Keys that are threatened by erosion and climate change. The whooping cranes that are native to Texas are threatened by pesticides, powerline collisions, oil spills, and habitat loss due to sea-level rise. There are only approximately two hundred Florida panthers in the world that is less than the size of the Siberian tiger population, which are ranked as critically endangered by IUCN.
The proposals have surprised conservationists, who expected the Biden administration to roll back Trump's plans to shrink the endangered species list.
In a press release, Brett Hartl, the Center for Biological Diversity’s government affairs director, said:
It’s a gut punch that the Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking to weaken protections for whooping cranes and key deer when both species’ homes could be underwater in decades. it’s appalling that the Fish and Wildlife Service is even considering moving forward with a Trump-era plan to reduce protections for the Florida panther just to enrich special interest real-estate developers. It’s sort of incredulous because you're picking species that are super highly imperiled and harmed by climate change
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