U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Declares 21 Species Officially Extinct

Nick Terran
By Nick Terran

In a somber announcement on Monday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared that 21 species are now extinct, resulting in their removal from the endangered species list.

These species, many of which were added to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 1970s and 1980s, were in alarming decline or likely even extinct at the time of their inclusion.

The decision to remove these species followed thorough assessments and rigorous evaluations of scientific data collected over the years. The goal was to ascertain the status and potential existence of these species.

Martha Williams, Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, reflected on this disheartening development, stating, “These species received federal protection, but unfortunately, it was too little too late. This situation serves as a resounding alarm about the criticality of preserving endangered species before reaching the point of no return.

In 2019, global scientists had issued a dire warning, indicating that a staggering 1 million species of plants and animals worldwide were teetering on the brink of extinction.

Portrait of Martha Williams, Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service under President Biden.

Director Martha Williams. Source: US Department of the Interior

Currently, the U.S. Endangered Species Act protects over 1,300 species that are classified as endangered or threatened.

Of the 21 species now declared extinct, the list consists of one mammal, ten birds, two fish species, and eight varieties of mussels. Interestingly, nearly a third of these species (eight of them) were native to Hawaii.

The announcement from the government agency stressed, “The unfortunate extinction of these 21 species underscores the vital role of the ESA. It is a testament to why we must act promptly to conserve species when there’s still hope. Each extinction story reinforces how human actions, whether it’s habitat destruction, overexploitation, or introducing invasive species and diseases, play a significant role in driving species towards the point of no return.”

In a previous proposal from September 2021, the Fish and Wildlife Service had suggested delisting 23 species under the ESA. Since then, the agency rescinded the removal proposal for a Hawaiian herb and continues its investigation into the status of the ivory-billed woodpecker.

While many species are removed from the ESA due to their extinction, others are delisted thanks to successful conservation efforts leading to their recovery. To the agency’s credit, over 100 plant and animal species have been removed from the list owing to either full recovery or improved conservation statuses that changed their designation from endangered to threatened.

Williams concluded with a hopeful note, emphasizing, “Our ultimate aspiration is to rehabilitate these species to a point where they can thrive without the protection of the ESA.”

The 21 Species Being Delisted Because They're Extinct


Little Mariana Fruit Bat


Bachman’s warbler

Bridled white-eye

Kauai akialoa

Kauai nukupuu

Kauaʻi ʻōʻō

Large Kauai thrush

In the late 1800s, this was the most common bird on Kauaʻi, but land clearing and avian malaria brought on by introduced mosquitoes decimated the birds.

Maui ākepa

Maui nukupuʻu

Molokai creeper



San Marcos gambusia

Scioto madtom


Flat pigtoe

Southern acornshell


Upland combshell

Green-blossom pearly mussel

Tubercled-blossom pearlymussel

Turgid-blossom pearly mussel

Yellow-blossom pearly mussel

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