By Cailey Rizzo
Updated: April 30, 2019

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced this month that it will conduct a review, which could take as long as 12 months, to consider whether or not the giraffe should be given “endangered” status on its list of animals at risk.

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Since 1985, the giraffe’s native population has decreased by up to 40 percent, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are now only an estimated 97,000 giraffes remaining in the wild (as measured in 2016). Groups including the Humane Society and the Center for Biological Diversity have petitioned for the U.S. government to consider the animal’s inclusion on the list of endangered species.

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Although the giraffe is not native to the U.S., the country plays a significant role in its endangerment. From 2006 to 2015, more than 39,500 giraffes (dead and alive) were imported to the U.S., according to The Independent.

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Animal humane groups say that the giraffe is being hunted as meat and brought back to the United States as prizes. If the U.S. included the animal on the endangered species list, it would allow the government to restrict import of the animals killed abroad.

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There are current restrictions on elephants and lions that are hunted abroad. Last year, the Trump administration suspended the restrictions, ABC News reported, but quickly put them back in place after public outcry.

The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 to “develop comprehensive endangered species legislation,” according to the FWS.

Other factors putting the giraffe at risk are habitat loss and conflict between people and animals.

After the FWS conducts its review, there will be a period for public comment, after which a final decision will be announced.

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