The Trump administration announced on Monday it would change how it implements the Endangered Species Act, weakening protections that environmentalists say violate the law and make it easier for oil companies, real estate interests and the agriculture industry to develop land inhabited by vulnerable wildlife.
The revisions announced in the new rule were a culmination of more than a year of efforts to loosen restrictions written to protect hundreds of species judged to be under pressure.
The Interior Department has argued that a streamlining is necessary to update how it enforces the 1973 law, including allowing the federal government to begin to measure the economic costs of protecting some species.
Several unique animals, including the North American wolverine, the northern spotted owl and the American burying beetle, demonstrate how the changes could hamper species protection. More than 1,600 species are considered officially at risk in the US.