The attack on wildlife and the Endangered Species Act
There are several actions currently underway that threaten wildlife conservation and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that have been ignored by the major media and need to be brought to the public’s attention before irreversible harm is done.
Republicans in Congress passed HJ Res 69 that takes away protections given to bears with cubs and wolves and their pups in denning season in national wildlife preserves in Alaska and would allow taking of bears using bait, snares, and via the use of aircraft. Note that these actions concern NATIONAL, not state, wildlife refuges and there is no excuse for Congress removing these protections.
The Republicans have been hoping to undermine the ESA for years—for example, in 2015, one study found they averaged 33 legislative attacks on it over the past 5 years. One proposal would subject listing to economic criteria so that opposition by developers and extractive industries could block protections if they interfere with their profits. The current ESA puts saving species first.
They are sponsoring legislation to give states a veto over listings while the wildlife conservation has a low priority in many states—for example, several states name their departments that oversee wildlife conservation “game departments” and are dominated by interests antithetical to wildlife conservation such as ranchers, extractive industries, and hunters. We need the Federal government to preserve the national interest in wildlife conservation.
They are moving to take away protections from the gray wolf and prevent it from being relisted. Republicans have passed a bill in the House to take away protections from the sage-grouse that were established after years of negotiation between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the various states involved. It would forbid the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the bird regardless of threats to it. They are also proposing to take actions that will make it difficult to bring lawsuits to protect species—research shows that these lawsuits have been backed by solid research and are needed to compensate for the diminishment of the budget and staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Moreover, these independent organizations are not to take on powerful economic interests that government agencies are reluctant to challenge.
Endangered species are fragile because their populations are small and the consequent lack of genetic diversity opens them to diseases and other threats. Moreover, most wildlife live on private lands which are covered by the Federal ESA because they are much richer in terms of soil, plant life, and availability of water—public lands largely exist in areas that were not of interest agricultural industry and developers. The inexorable growth of development and roads is reducing and breaking up the habitat of species ever more and removal of Federal protections will worsen the situation rapidly.
Surveys show that the general public very much supports the Endangered Species Act and species such as wolves and bears but they are unaware of these impending events because the major media have not reported them. This is not a partisan issue—surveys show that Republicans and Independents support wildlife conservation. Indeed, the two most significant expansions of protections for wildlife occurred during the presidencies of Teddy Roosevelt and Richard Nixon (the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973).
We need the media to alert the public about the threats to the ESA. We need our Congressional representatives to stop the assault on the ESA and species such as wolves, grizzlies, sage-grouse, and many others. People concerned about wildlife conservation need to contact their senators, representatives and major media to ask them to take action to protect wildlife and preserve the current ESA. One means to do this would be a filibuster by senators—that would draw attention from the media—so far these issues have not received the attention they deserve.
I have just completed a book titled "Wildlife Politics" that is scheduled to be published by Cambridge University Press on March 30, 2017. The book covers broadly all major aspects of wildlife conservation policy worldwide. During my research for the book, I noticed that there was no blog available for sharing informaton on wildlife conservation and thus I set up this blog to accomplish this purpose. Please share any informaticoncerning issues related to wildife policy and politics. I welcome feedback from users concerning this blog and website.