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 Mary Beth Charles
Population: 5,900 left in the U.S.
Protected Area: 200 sq. mi. protected in Great Lakes region
Frosted Flatwoods Salamander Flickr
Population: 10,000 left
Protected Area: 500 sq. mi. protected in Georgia and South Carolina
Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse Courtesy of Colorado State
Population: 18,000 left
Protected Area: 411 river miles protected in Colorado
Spruce Fir Moss Spider Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Population: 87 sightings in two years
Protected Area: 1.4 sq. mi. protected in the Appalachian Mountains
Northern Red-Bellied Cooter Tony Campbell
Population: 3,500 left
Protected Area: 11 sq. mi. protected in Massachusetts
Bull Trout Oregon Department of Fish and Wi
Population: Two million left in the U.S.
Protected Area: 20,551 miles of streams protected in the Rocky Mountains
Gray Wolf Dennis Donohue
Population: 1,750 left in the Rocky Mountains
Protected Area: 80,000 sq. mi. protected
Polar Bear Sylvie Bouchard
Population: 3,500 left in U.S.
Protected Area: A January lawsuit nullified protection of 187,000 sq. mi. in Alaska