The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will now undertake a status review assessment of the pygmy three-toed sloth and decide whether listing the species as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is warranted. If they decide it is warranted to list the species, USFWS will then publish a proposed rule and open another public comment period for 60 days.
Late last year, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) filed an emergency petition to list the pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA). Endemic to Panama’s Isla Escudo de Veraguas, the pygmy three-toed sloth—the world’s smallest sloth—is critically endangered, with as few as 79 left in the wild. You can find more information about the species and AWI’s petition here.
On June 9, 2014, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced a 90-day finding on the petition. Based on the agency’s review, the petition was found to present substantial scientific or commercial information, indicating that it may be warranted to list the sloths to receive protection under the ESA.
USFWS will now undertake the next step in the process—a status assessment of the species—and is requesting comments from the public.
What You Can Do
Please visit the comment page (http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FWS-HQ-ES-2014-0014-0001) before the September 8 deadline to tell USFWS you support listing the pygmy three-toed sloth as endangered under the ESA. Some suggested talking points to include in your comments are provided below. Feel free, however, to personalize your message and add additional points, so long as your total comments do not exceed 5,000 characters.
Suggested Talking Points
- Pygmy three-toed sloths number as few as 79 in the wild and face ongoing and pervasive threats, including but not limited to degradation and destruction of their mangrove forest habitat, opportunistic hunting for food, increased inbreeding and subsequent loss of genetic diversity, predation, disease, and minimal protection under Panama law.
- The potential for capture and export of live pygmy three-toed sloths for public display threatens the species’ continued existence. In September 2013, Dallas World Aquarium attempted to export six of the sloths to the United States, potentially removing a significant percentage of the remaining wild population. At least two sloths died prior to or immediately after release as a result of their temporary capture and confinement.
- An emergency ESA listing of the pygmy three-toed sloth as an endangered species would greatly reduce the potential for the export of the species to the United States, raise the profile of the species (thereby generating greater attention to its protection and conservation), and potentially provide the government of Panama, scientists, and conservation organizations with access to funding to improve the protection and conservation of the species and its habitat.
Please also share our "Dear Humanitarian" eAlert with family, friends and co-workers, and encourage them to send a message to USFWS too.
As always, thank you very much for your help!
P.S. Read about our efforts to protect endangered species at http://www.awionline.org/content/endangered-species and follow us on& Facebook and Twitter for updates on the action above and other important animal protection news.