One of the first subspecies ever listed on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) was removed this year thanks to conservation work over the decades while a non-poisonous southern snake and bats decimated by a fungal disease are among those given protection status.
While last year saw 61 species given protection on the ESA, this year was a relatively slow year, with a total of 30 listings (including plants and fish) and two delistings.
To round off the year, we’ve taken a quick look at some of the listings and delistings of 2015.
Northern Long-Eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis)
This bat has been decimated by the spread of the white-nose syndrome (WNS), which has killed around 99 percent of the bats in the U.S. Northeast. The disease is spreading west as well, and could impact some of the remaining populations of the bat, which was listed as threatened in May.
23 Species Listed in Micronesia
The USFWS published a blanket rule in the Federal Register listing 16 species in the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam as endangered and another seven species as threatened due to issues threats from invasive species, climate change, habitat loss, and damage related to military training. The list includes four tree snail species, the Mariana subspecies of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat (Emballonura semicaudata rotensi), Slevin’s skink (Emoia slevini), the Mariana eight-spot butterfly (Hypolimnas octocula marianensis), the Mariana wandering butterfly (Vagrans egistina) and the Rota blue damselfly (Ischnura luta). The other 14 species listed were plants.
Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus)
This subspecies of squirrel, found only in a few counties in Delaware and Maryland, was one of the first subspecies ever listed on the ESA. In November, 45 years after listing, the squirrel has expanded from a fraction of its historic range in 1967 to a current population of around 20,000 individuals on the Delmarva Peninsula. The Delmarva fox squirrel was also the only animal delisted in 2015 by the USFWS other than a small fish in Oregon.
Black Pinesnake (Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi)
This reptile is only found in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and faces threats from habitat destruction, disease or predations and the overuse of the animal for scientific, recreational or commercial purposes. As its name suggests, the non-venomous pinesnake often lives in pine or pine-oak forests. The snake was listed as threatened in October.
Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)
While the species was neither listed nor delisted, the decision not to list it may have been one of the most important made in the past year in terms of the political wrangling that surrounded a potential listing. In September, the USFWS decided that the greater sage-grouse, long a candidate species for listing, did not warrant listing status due to major conservation efforts.
|Joshua Rapp Learn is a science writer at The Wildlife Society.