The bureaucratic process involved in moving plants and wildlife onto the Endangered Species Act list has devolved over the decades into an acrimonious court feud between champions of the country’s imperiled species and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administrators charged with protecting them.

Candidate species have lingered for years on the government’s docket. Concerned citizens’ groups have sued to get them attention. Then, in the course of responding to those lawsuits, the service has spent more time on litigation than biology. As a result, delays lengthened and more lawsuits were filed, is if on a never-ending loop.

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