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Congressman Grijalva on Decline in Biodiversity, the Extinction of the Stephan's Riffle Beetle

Douglas Moore, Graphic Artist
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Sketch of the Stephan's Riffle Beetle

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared an insect once found in Madera Canyon south of Tucson extinct—one of about 200 species of animals, plants, and insects that disappear every day.  This trend has many scientists concerned for the state of biodiversity across the globe.  Maya Springhawk Robnett of the Arizona Science desk reports…

After a five-year search, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that the Stephan’s Riffle Beetle is now extinct.  In 2002, the beetle was listed as a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act, but the creature hasn’t been seen in the wild since 1993. 

U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) is a Ranking Member of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.  He says he often sees a lack of concern for species loss.

“I think that kind of attitude leads one to the conclusion that it’s a permissible, that biodiversity or life in general will recuperate somehow,” he says of those who dismiss the importance of the Endangered Species Act. “But every link we lose to each other is a link that’s not going to come back.”

“Unfortunately, whether it’s ESA [Endangered Species Act] or whether it’s climate change or whether it’s clean air, clean water—they have become objects of ideology and that’s what drives decision-making. And that’s what should scare many people.”
Extended Clip: Congressman Grijalva talks biodiversity

Steve Spangle for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it’s not that they don’t want to save every endangered species.  It’s that they simply can’t.

“Unless we get unlimited funding and personnel at some point, we’re not going to be able to save everything.  And I don’t think unlimited funding and personnel is in the cards,” Spangle explained. “So, you know, it’s analogous to a triage on a battlefield.  You’ve got a number of injured soldiers and you only have the resources to save some of them.”

That means some candidates, like the Stephan’s Riffle Beetle, may go extinct while waiting for protection. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife has not determined a reason for the insect’s disappearance.