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Snapshot

Big number: Saving the animals

A piping plover at the L Street Beach in South Boston.
A piping plover at the L Street Beach in South Boston.Jonathan Wiggs GlobeStaff//Globe Staff

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That’s how many piping plover breeding pairs were left in Massachusetts when federal officials designated the birds as threatened in 1986. Protected by the Endangered Species Act, piping plover breeding pairs now number nearly 700.

Signed by President Richard Nixon in 1973, scientists credit the Endangered Species Act with saving several species from extinction and restoring wildlife to habitats like Massachusetts’ coastal waters.

On Monday, the Trump administration announced changes to the way the landmark act is applied that would weaken the law and make it harder to protect wildlife.

Under Trump’s new rules, protections for threatened species would diminish. It would be easier to remove species from the endangered list and harder for officials to factor in climate change’s effect on wildlife. The new rules make it easier for mining and development in previously protected areas.

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Aimee Ortiz can be reached at aimee.ortiz@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @aimee_ortiz.