Emperor penguins now threatened species due to climate change

NEW YORK (Reuters) — Antarctica’s emperor penguin is at risk of extinction due to rising global temperatures and sea ice loss, the U.S. government said Oct. 25 as it finalized protections for the animal under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said emperor penguins should be protected under the law since the birds build colonies and raise their young on the Antarctic ice threatened by climate change.

The wildlife agency said a thorough review of evidence, including satellite data from 40 years, showed the penguins aren’t currently in danger of extinction, but rising temperatures signal that is likely. The agency’s review followed a 2011 petition by the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity to list the bird under the Endangered Species Act.

Climate change has caused colonies to experience breeding failures, according to the government. The Halley Bay colony in the Weddell Sea, the second-largest emperor penguin colony in the world, experienced several years of poor sea ice conditions, leading to the drowning of all newborn chicks beginning in 2016, the government said.