The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has declared 21 species extinct, with birds, a bat, and several species of mussels included in the list of species now believed to be gone forever.

Eight types of Hawaiian honeycreeper birds, the Bachman’s warbler, and the Mariana fruit bat of Guam are among those in the list of extinctions, according to the FWS.

Each species was deemed extinct by three main criteria: detectability of the species, adequacy of survey efforts, and the time since the last detection of the species. Some species had not been seen since as early as 1899 to as late as 2004, according to NPR.

Climate change, pollution, and competition with introduced species — all of which are the work of humans — were the major factors leading to the extinctions, according to FWS.

“Federal protection came too late to reverse these species’ decline,” FWS Director Martha Williams said. “It’s a wake-up call on the importance of conserving imperiled species before it’s too late.”

These 21 species have now joined 467 other plants and animals who have gone extinct between 2010 and 2019, based on data gathered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

While we mourn the 21 species who will never be seen on our globe again, we cannot be dissuaded from conservation efforts. We must learn from this tragedy and protect other vulnerable species before their decline also becomes irreversible. Now is the time to act, reverse the damage our own species has caused, and protect the precious life on our Earth.

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