Wildlife Conservation under the Trump Administration: As I completed ten years of writing my book Wildlife Conservation, I noted in the concluding chapter that if a Republican were elected president and they controlled the Senate, House, and presidency, that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the entire framework for protecting wildlife would be changed. Since 1992, Republicans have wanted to “defang” the Endangered Species Act. In case after case in the Federal courts, property rights and extractive industries have lost cases based on the strong language of the ESA and it is clear that this Act will be front and center for revision. The Act could be entirely abolished but more likely it is to be rewritten so that now efforts to protect species must be weighed against the rights of landowners with the presumption in favor of landowners when there is a conflict. Likewise, a revision is likely to delegate to states the right to make decisions about controversial cases such as when development interests conflict with wildlife conservation with the presumption likely to be in favor of development. I don’t have any record of how Ryan Zinke, Trump’s proposed Secretary of the Interior, feels about the Endangered Species Act. According to the Washington Post, Zinke received a score of 3 by the League of Conservation Voters on the environment (100 = pro-environment) so that is not promising. He has opposed (unlike many Republicans) selling Federal lands to states so that is positive. An article (in Policy Sciences) by Martin Nie titled “The underappreciated role of regulatory enforcement in natural resource conservation” makes the point that the regulatory threat of listing under ESA is needed to provide incentive for landowners to participate in “voluntary” efforts at conservation. This is a point that my book emphasizes too in my case studies of the implementation of conservation agreements such as habitat conservation plans. I also wonder about what will happen to the current agreements such as those reached to save the sage grouse—can landowners-extractive industries cease adhering to the restrictions agreed to if the ESA is radically changed? Take away the threat of the “hammer” of listing under ESA, and conservation interests will have a hard time obtaining interest in conservation agreements that force them to sacrifice profits.
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.