Obama’s 99 Wildlife Wins

The White House looks back on seven years of conservation efforts.
From left: sage grouse, green sea turtle, and Louisiana black bear. (Photos: Pat Gaines/Getty Images; Michael Patrick O'Neill/Getty Images; Tracy Thomas/Flickr)
May 28, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

One in five animal and plant species in the United States is at risk of extinction.

It’s a sobering fact, and one the Obama administration calls attention to in a recently released white paper from the Council on Environmental Quality.

While taking note of the challenges ahead, the paper reflects on the 99 wildlife victories the Obama administration said it has achieved in its conservation efforts over the past seven years.

“In addition to protecting some of our nation’s most iconic and special places, President Obama’s conservation efforts have extended to landscapes, creatures and plants around the country,” the report reads. “In fact, the Obama Administration has brought to successful conclusion more wildlife recoveries than any other Administration.”

Some of the highlights mentioned in the report included the protection through conservation efforts of more than 265 million acres of land and water, which includes 1.8 million acres of desert in California.

Other success stories mentioned in the report include the conservation of the greater sage grouse—an iconic bird of the American West. “Due to unprecedented conservation cooperation across the western United States, the greater sage grouse—a ground-dwelling bird located across the West on sagebrush landscapes—successfully avoided the need for legal protection under” the Endangered Species Act, according to the report.

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The Louisiana black bear—the “teddy” bear, like the one President Teddy Roosevelt saved in 1902—was brought back from the brink of extinction, thanks to the ESA.

The Florida green sea turtle and Mexico green sea turtle populations were “downlisted” from endangered to threatened after years of coordinated conservation efforts, including protection of nesting beaches, limits on bycatch in fisheries, and prohibition of the direct harvest of sea turtles.

The paper says much work is still to be done, given that more than 2,250 species are listed.

According to Jamie Rappaport Clark of the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife, more than 100 legislative attacks on the ESA have been proposed by anticonservation members of Congress just in the past year.

“Nearly three-fourths of American voters believe that decisions about which imperiled species receive protection under the ESA should be made by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists, not members of Congress,” Clark wrote in a blog post. “But too many anti-conservation members of Congress have stopped listening to their constituents on this issue—letting extreme politics run amuck in a process that should be based on the best available science.”