BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A new report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now lists 21 endangered species as considered extinct.
Local experts said more than half a dozen of them lived in Alabama, which ranks fourth for biodiversity in the entire United States.
“Extinction is forever. When species are gone, they’re never coming back,” said biologist Dr. Scot Duncan, executive director of Alabama Audubon, a non-profit dedicated to conserving the state’s bird populations.
Duncan pointed out that most of these now-extinct species were freshwater mussels, but also a bird known as Bachman’s Warbler that bred throughout the southeast.
“Very small birds, they would fit in the palm of your hand. Most of them are very brightly colored, but they do amazing things,” Duncan said.
The Bachman Warbler was last spotted in the 1960s and would fly across the Gulf of Mexico in one night for migration. Duncan suspects habitat loss is what led to its extinction and said Alabama is facing a “biodiversity crisis.”
“We have more extinct species in this state than any other state except for Hawaii,” Duncan said.
Duncan added that Alabama Audubon is working around the clock to prevent other bird species from going extinct in the future. In the meantime, he said the Alabama Department of Tourism is encouraging bird watchers from around the state and country to visit the existing bird species.
This makes places like the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in Pinson all the more critical for housing rare, endangered and threatened species.
“Oftentimes, just by taking care of one of these species, taking care of the land or the resources that these species require to survive, we’re also taking care of us. It ensures that we have clean water, we have clean air, we have beautiful places like Turkey Creek to visit,” said Charles Yeager, manager of the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.