Huge chunk of plants, animals in US at risk of extinction: Reuters
Forty percent of animals and thirty-four percent of plants in the United States are on the verge of extinction.
In an exclusive report by Reuters, the agency reveals that a conservation research group found that 40% of animals and 34% of plants in the United States are at risk of extinction, while 41% of ecosystems are facing collapse.
The report found that everything from crayfish and cacti to freshwater mussels and iconic American species like the Venus flytrap are in danger of extinction.
NatureServe, which analyzes data from its network of over 1,000 scientists across the United States and Canada, said the report was its most comprehensive yet, synthesizing five decades of its own data on animal, plant, and ecosystem health.
Importantly, the report identifies areas in the United States where land is unprotected and animals and plants are most vulnerable.
The report's conclusions were "terrifying," according to Sean O'Brien, president of NatureServe, and he hoped it would help lawmakers understand the importance of passing protections, such as the Recovering America's Wildlife Act, which died in Congress last year.
"If we want to maintain the panoply of biodiversity that we currently enjoy, we need to target the places where the biodiversity is most threatened," O'Brien said. "This report allows us to do that."
According to the report, US Representative Don Beyer, a Democrat who has proposed legislation to establish a wildlife corridor system to rebuild threatened fish, wildlife, and plant populations, said NatureServe's work would be critical in assisting agencies in determining what areas to prioritize and where to establish migration routes.
"The data reported by NatureServe is grim, a harrowing sign of the very real problems our wildlife and ecosystems are facing," Beyer told Reuters. "I am thankful for their efforts, which will give a boost to efforts to protect biodiversity."
Reuters states that some species at risk of disappearing are icons like the carnivorous Venus flytrap, which is only found in the wild in a few counties of North and South Carolina.
Nearly half of all cacti species are at risk of extinction, while 200 species of trees, including a maple-leaf oak found in Arkansas, are also at risk of disappearing, according to the report.
America's vast temperate and boreal grasslands are among the most threatened ecosystems, with more than half of the 78 grassland types facing range-wide extinction.
The report discovered a variety of threats to plants, animals, and ecosystems, including "habitat degradation and land conversion, invasive species, damming and polluting of rivers, and climate change."