With Bachman’s warbler and others added to the ‘extinct’ list, we must support biodiversity agreements (commentary)

Last month, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that it was proposing “to remove 23 species from the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants due to extinction.” Among the species selected for “removal”— the cold, bureaucratic term hiding a history of destruction and death — is the diminutive Bachman’s warbler (Vermivora bachmanii), a beautiful, yellow-rumped, black-capped bird with olivaceous plumage, whose status will now, by official fiat, change from being the rarest songbird in the United States to being a non-existent one. Sobering news indeed, though Bachman’s warbler, easily overlooked, is hardly material for the front page. And it’s not quite final yet: technically, there is a 60-day public comment period during which the public can protest the decision. Yet, barring new evidence of a miraculous sighting, no one expects that little bird to claw its way back from being extinct to the dubious honor of just being endangered. Like other bird species recently declared extinct, Bachman’s warbler, once at home in the bottomland forests of the Southeast and, during the winter, in Cuba, fell victim to what kills so many birds—habitat destruction (along with hurricanes in Cuba). Bachman’s warbler was last seen in 1988. Why lament the disappearance of just one species, however pretty? The history of our planet has been marked by extinctions. Even as we now worry about what Subhankar Banerjee has called a “full-scale winnowing of vast populations of the planet’s invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants,” the fact remains that so…This article was originally published on Mongabay