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Rare Glacier National Park Insect Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection

October 3, 2016
Taylor Jones, (720) 443-2615, tjones@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Wildlife   Mist forestfly
Washington, DC —In response to a 2007 petition by WildEarth Guardians, today the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced a proposal to protect the meltwater lednian stonefly (Lednia tumana) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as a “threatened” species. The stonefly is endemic to Glacier National Park, and is imperiled by climate change.

“We urge theService to quickly finalize this listing and work to combat climate change,”said Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “The plight of the stonefly is an indicator of much bigger problems; Glacier National Park will lose its namesake glaciers unless we take action.”

Glacier National Park is a symbolic ground zero for the climate crisis. Since 1900, air temperatures in Glacier National Park have risen at almost double the global average increase and are expected to increase even more rapidly in the future. As a result, projections indicate that all glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone by 2030. As the glaciers disappear, streams they feed will heat up and in some cases dry out. The stonefly likely cannot survive these changes, as it depends on cold water from glacial runoff.

“Small, less charismatic animals are often the proverbial canaries in the coal mine: their plight is indicative of the less biodiverse future we all face if we do not address threats to our shared habitat like catastrophic climate change,” saidJones. “We need to address the root causes of climate change now if we want to see the stonefly and other climate imperiled species survive into the future.”

Today’s finding triggers a 12-month deadline by which time the Service must decide whether to finalize the proposed listing and add the stonefly to the official list of threatened and endangered species, at which point the stonefly would be protected under the law. The stonefly joins the Joshua tree and wolverine on the list of species proposed for protections based primarily on threats to their continued survival posed by climate change.

Protection under the ESA is an effective safety net for imperiled species: more than 99 percent of plants and animals protected by the law exist today. The law is especially important as a defense against the current extinction crisis; species are disappearing at a rate much higher than the natural rate of extinction due to human activities. Scientists estimate that 227 species would have gone extinct by 2006 if not for ESA protections.