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  • Photo: Dennis Donohue

    Gray Wolf

    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).

    Jen Schwartz

  • Photo: Mary Beth Charles

    The Piping Plover

    Population: 5,900 left in the U.S.
    Protected Area: 200 sq. mi. protected in Great Lakes region
    EPS: 3.6

  • Photo: Flickr

    Frosted Flatwoods Salamander

    Population: 10,000 left
    Protected Area: 500 sq. mi. protected in Georgia and South Carolina
    EPS: 2,500

  • Photo: Courtesy of Colorado State

    Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse

    Population: 18,000 left
    Protected Area: 411 river miles protected in Colorado
    EPS: 3,699

  • Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Spruce Fir Moss Spider

    Population: 87 sightings in two years
    Protected Area: 1.4 sq. mi. protected in the Appalachian Mountains
    EPS: 61

  • Photo: Tony Campbell

    Northern Red-Bellied Cooter

    Population: 3,500 left
    Protected Area: 11 sq. mi. protected in Massachusetts
    EPS: .02

  • Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wi

    Bull Trout

    Population: Two million left in the U.S.
    Protected Area: 20,551 miles of streams protected in the Rocky Mountains
    EPS: 2,657

  • Photo: Dennis Donohue

    Gray Wolf

    Population: 1,750 left in the Rocky Mountains
    Protected Area: 80,000 sq. mi. protected
    EPS: 1.7

  • Photo: Sylvie Bouchard

    Polar Bear

    Population: 3,500 left in U.S.
    Protected Area: A January lawsuit nullified protection of 187,000 sq. mi. in Alaska
    EPS: Void

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