We have a cheer for the Biden Administration for throwing out the Trump definition of “habitat” for endangered animals, which shrank the areas that could be protected for wildlife under threat of extinction. Narrowing the definition had limited federal protection to only places that can sustain an endangered species, as opposed to a more broad, historic habitat where the animal could someday live or dwell.
By striking a single sentence from the regulations, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries could once again protect a “critical habitat” even if it had become unsuitable because of development or other changes but could be restored.
“The Trump-era rule was terrible for wildlife and limited the ability to protect habitat necessary for threatened and endangered species. Of course, there is still much more that this administration could be doing to protect wildlife, but this is a step in the right direction,” said Jennifer Best, director of Friends of Animals Wildlife Law Program.
The move comes amid an intensifying biodiversity crisis, with an estimated million plant and animal species around the world threatened with extinction, reports the New York Times. A main cause is habitat loss as people transform wild areas into farms, cities and towns. Pollution and climate change make the problem worse.
The change by the Biden administration is the first of several expected reversals of Trump-era rules that govern the Endangered Species Act. Officials expect to rescind a second rule, also related to habitat needs, next month.