The Washington Post's front page on Sunday carried a story on the sluggish expansion of the list of endangered or threatened species since President Bush took office. Under the current administration, the list has grown by 59 species, in every case following a request by environmental activists rather than being initiated by government officials. In the past two years, not a single species has been added.
By comparison, 231 species gained such protections under the first President Bush, who served a single term. And in 52 of those cases, according to the Post, it was administration officials, not just activists, who requested the status change. The difference between father and son is far more striking than the disparity between Bush the elder and President Clinton, whose administration extended protection to 521 species over two terms of office.
As you can imagine, the current administration and environmental activists are squaring off over species that some people say belong on the list. "In a sign of how contentious the issue has become," reads the Post, "the advocacy group WildEarth Guardians filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking a court order to protect 681 Western species all at once, on the grounds that further delay would violate the law."
I was curious to see what these not-quite-endangered critters (and plants) look like. I contacted WildEarth Guardians and obtained some photos, which my colleagues assembled into this striking gallery.