Nudged by countless lawsuits from conservation groups, the protected-species list could more than double in the decade ahead. The greatest benefit? Millions of acres of land—often prime recreational real estate—shielded from unfettered commercial (read: oil and gas) exploitation. Sure, these protections can sometimes seem excessive. But we’ll take ’em!
To measure the contributions of some of the most heroic species, we divided the square miles of critical habitat by the animal's range and size and multiplied it by the number of animals left in the wild. The result: the Outside Excessive Protection Score (EPS).
The Piping Plover
Population: 5,900 left in the U.S.
Protected Area: 200 sq. mi. protected in Great Lakes region
Frosted Flatwoods Salamander
Population: 10,000 left
Protected Area: 500 sq. mi. protected in Georgia and South Carolina
Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse
Population: 18,000 left
Protected Area: 411 river miles protected in Colorado
Spruce Fir Moss Spider
Population: 87 sightings in two years
Protected Area: 1.4 sq. mi. protected in the Appalachian Mountains
Northern Red-Bellied Cooter
Population: 3,500 left
Protected Area: 11 sq. mi. protected in Massachusetts
Population: Two million left in the U.S.
Protected Area: 20,551 miles of streams protected in the Rocky Mountains
Population: 1,750 left in the Rocky Mountains
Protected Area: 80,000 sq. mi. protected
Population: 3,500 left in U.S.
Protected Area: A January lawsuit nullified protection of 187,000 sq. mi. in Alaska
Next Up: The Granite Mountain Hotshots