Trump officials weaken protections for animals near extinction

THE GUARDIAN:

The Trump administration is scaling back the US government’s latitude to protect species nearing extinction, as world scientists warn that a biodiversity crisis will soon put humanity at risk.

The changes to how the government implements the Endangered Species Act, lauded by industry, will make it harder to protect the most vulnerable creatures.

Several unique animals, including the North American wolverine, the northern spotted owl and the American burying beetle, demonstrate how the changes could hamper species protection.

More than 1,600 species are considered officially at risk in the US. A United Nations report this spring found humans are disrupting the natural world and putting a million species at risk of extinction worldwide. At least 680 vertebrate species have gone extinct in the last 400 years.

Under the changes finalized on Monday, species categorized as “threatened” will not automatically receive the same protections as those listed as “endangered”. The new rules will allow officials to draw more attention to the economic impact of protecting a species.

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