Obama administration sets delisting record

By Jennifer Becar

The Obama administration has overseen a record number of species recoveries, including three Channel Island fox subspecies. ©Chuck Graham/USFWS

More species have been removed from the Endangered Species List during the Obama administration than in all previous administrations combined.

In a final rule released on Aug. 12, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that three subspecies of Channel Island fox – the San Miguel Island fox (Urocyon littoralis littoralis), the Santa Rosa Island fox (U. l. santarosae), and the Santa Cruz Island fox (U. l. santacruzae) – would be removed from the Endangered Species List. In addition, the Santa Catalina Island fox (U. l. catalinae) will be reclassified from an endangered species to a threatened species.

These foxes, native to the Channel Islands of California, were originally listed in 2004 after populations decreased by 90 percent in only six years. At their lowest point, some of the subspecies had as few as 15 individuals remaining on the islands. USFWS partnered with landowners, state agencies, and wildlife experts to develop a recovery program for the foxes and reverse the steep population declines – resulting in the fastest recovery for any listed mammal in history.

USFWS considers the recovery of these populations a cause for celebration. “That’s the power of the Endangered Species Act,” said USFWS Director Dan Ashe in a news release, “not just to protect rare animals and plants on paper, but to drive focused conservation that gets dramatic results.”

These foxes are among 19 total species delisted from the Endangered Species Act during the Obama administration, accounting for nearly half of all species delisted since the ESA was passed into law over 40 years ago.

Becar_Headshot Jennifer Becar is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.

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