Some Cape-Visiting Species Left Vulnerable by Weakened Endangered Species Act
The Trump administration announced plans on Monday to roll back some protections laid out in the Endangered Species Act. The changes include reversals on habitat protections, and removing some safeguards for species that are considered “threatened,” the status below endangered.
The Trump administration describes the changes as modernizing the law and increasing transparency in the process.
Environmental advocates expressed concern. “It takes away the ability to strictly review how imperiled species are based on the science, and adds economic impacts to that listing,” said Jack Clarke, director of public policy and government relations at Mass Audubon.
Massachusetts protects over 400 species, but some federally endangered animals are not considered endangered under state law.
“One of [those animals] would be the Red Knot, which we see on our beaches on the Cape and Islands. So that’s one species that needs protection by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts right now,” Clarke said.
Environmental advocates are also concerned the new rules will clear the way for development in areas where protected species live.
Loss of habitat due to climate change is already one of the greatest threats to endangered species around the world.
“The Trump administration takes climate change out of consideration, takes habitat protection out of consideration. So this is a significant setback,” Clarke said.
Late Monday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced her office will sue to preserve the protections laid out in the federal Endangered Species Act.
The landmark conservation law has been credited with preventing the extinction of 99 percent of all listed species, including the bald eagle, humpback whale, and green sea turtle.