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Gone For Good: How A Species Is Declared Extinct

This aerial view shows a parcel of land.
This aerial view shows a parcel of land.

More than 20 animals and one plant weredeclared extinct by the Fish and Wildlife Service last week.  

It’s one of the longer extinction announcements in the history of the agency—which could be part of the reason it’s gotten so much attention. 

Declaring extinction is not as straightforward as you might think. Many of the species on this list likely disappeared decades ago but knowing for certain can be difficult.

This uncertainty comes at a cost since delisting a species means no longer directing resources towards protecting its habitat.

And climate change is only exacerbating the problem of extinction. A report released by the United Nations last year estimates that one million plant and animal species are at risk of being gone for good. 

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Haili Blassingame