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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

America's Endangered Species Act turns 50

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Thursday, December 28, 2023   

Five decades after passage of the Endangered Species Act, extinction no longer threatens more than 50 species.

Success of the law was demonstrated this month when 10 gray wolves were released into Colorado's wilderness. The predator had been eradicated from the state in the 1940s.

Bryan Bird, Southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife, said there would be fewer success stories without the 1973 law but supporters must remain vigilant.

"When the Endangered Species Act is allowed to work the way it was designed and it's funded, it has an incredibly good track record," Bird pointed out. "Defenders numbers are 99% of the species listed under the Act have survived."

A recent poll by Defenders of Wildlife showed 84% of Americans support the Endangered Species Act. Nonetheless, Bird noted Congressional proposals include measures to block essential protections, including one to delist or downlist species such as the gray wolf, grizzly bear and lesser prairie-chicken.

The Endangered Species Act currently receives less than half of the funds needed for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fully implement species protections and recovery efforts. Bird argued it is bewildering, given the law's success bringing so many species back from the verge of extinction, ranging from birds to reptiles.

"Just to name a few are the American alligator, that was nearly extinct in the 1950s," Bird outlined. "The black-footed ferret, again a species that was completely thought to be extinct in the wild by the 1970s. A local species down here in the Southwest, the Apache trout, is now delisted."

Today, 21 listed species have been lost to extinction. The Fish and Wildlife Service explained most were included in the 1970s and 1980s but their low numbers meant it was too late for them.

Disclosure: Defenders of Wildlife contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Energy Policy, and Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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