Government adopts new Endangered Species policy: denial

Flat Tops WildernessA little over a week ago, a memo from the Solicitor for the U.S. Department of Interior surfaced that seeks to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act by essentially limiting the law’s scope to those places where imperiled species are presently struggling, eliminating any need to actually restore such species to their former range. This shouldn’t really come as a shock, but it should wake people up to the clear view of this Administration: “Nature can go to hell!”. Here’s a teaser from an AP article last week and the link to the full story:

Tired of losing lawsuits brought by conservation groups, the Bush administration issued a new interpretation of the Endangered Species Act on Friday that would allow it to protect plants and animals only in areas where they are struggling to survive, while ignoring places where they are healthy or have already died out.

The opinion by U.S. Department of Interior Solicitor David Bernhardt was posted with no formal announcement on the department’s Web site.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall, contacted in Washington, D.C., said the new policy would allow them to focus on protecting species in areas where they are in trouble, rather than having to list a species over its entire range.

That would make it easier to take the gray wolf off the federal threatened species list in Montana and Idaho, leaving it to the states to manage. And it would leave it listed in Wyoming, where the state has yet to adopt a protection plan that satisfies the federal government, Hall said.

“I think this will be a good tool from a biological standpoint,” he said. “I think a lot of species might be affected in the future, especially species that are wideranging.”

But Kieran Suckling, policy director for the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, said the new policy was a sophisticated effort by the Bush administration to gut the Endangered Species Act by ignoring the loss of species from their historical range, making it easier to deny endangered species listings.

Click here to read the full story from the Associated Press.

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14 responses to “Government adopts new Endangered Species policy: denial

  1. I’ll have to go back and look it up, but one was Dr. David Mech, hardly a lightweight in wolf studies.
    If more that 1300 wolves were needed to appease city folks why was the plan for 300? On top of that the ESA calls for the agency (FWS) to develop the plan prior to delisting. That makes sense to me, why in the world have states trying to come up with what the feds are demanding, why not just write it to begin with? Unless they couldn’t admit that they were aiming for many times what was in the plan.
    I just did a lot of research on the ESA and wrote the following article on how and why it needs to be fixed, or done over:
    http://www.newwest.net/index.php/topic/article/esa_too_broke_to_fix/C147/L38.

  2. Who are these 10 of 11 biologists?

  3. Rob, I absolutely agree with you. My point was simply that if three years ago Wyoming had in place a wolf management plan similar to the one that Montana has, it is very likely that wolves would be off the list now (in those states). Regardless of what you and I may think. In a sense, Wyoming has been the wolf’s best friend. A reasonable management plan would allow wolves to continue to spread into more of their traditional territory.
    Marion, you are always talking about how you believe that wolves are endangering the Northern Range elk herd and moose. I could use your own argument and say: They are not endangered, there are plenty of elk and moose in Canada. That makes about as much sense!
    Regarding your “fact four”: ” ….it only transfers the cost of maintaining them to half a million people in the state of Wyoming”. I think you hit it right on the nail head. Wyoming DOES NOT WANT WOLVES DE-LISTED BECAUSE THEY DON”T WANT TO PAY FOR MANAGEMENT! By fighting to get them de-listed under an unreasonable management plan, THEY ARE ACTUALLY FIGHTING TO KEEP THEM ON THE LIST! If no plan would be acceptable, why is it that Montana’s plan is almost UNIVERSALLY accepted?

  4. Fact one is that wolves are not endangered. The imported wolves were taken from a population of about 60,000 Candian wolves.
    Fact 2, no matter how many wolves are in the 3 states, they will never be in all or any where near all of their former range. The reason being there are enough people there to prevent them being planted where they live, so we have to have more to make up for it.
    Fact 3, the Wyoming plan was approved by 10 of 11 wolf biologists, it just is not PC enough for those on the sidelines to accept.
    Fact 4 Having an “approved plan” does not get the wolves delisted, it only transfers the cost of maintaining them to half a million people in the state of Wyoming. It is already very obvious that no plan and no number will be adequate for enviros. It will be held up in court for years, no matter how much damage they cause. No plan would be acceptable, partly because a lot of extra funding would not be available for the managers, and it would mean a loss of control to environmental groups. On top of that a lot of groups raise money for lawsuits and by them, they do not want to give that up.

  5. Actually, Frank, the problem is that the goals for the Northern Rockies wolf recovery plan were not tiered to the actual legal mandate of the Endangered Species Act, which states clearly that recovery means that the species is again present and no-longer threatened with extinction across “all or a significant portion” of it’s former range.

    In the lower forty-eight states, wolves occupy less than five-percent of their historic range. Within the confines of the area covered by the NRM plan, wolves occupy less than 15 percent of their historic range. The plan failed to account for the demands of the law, and that’s why we are fighting this battle now.

  6. Funny thing is that if it were any other species on the endangered species list, a recovery of 500% of the goal for de-listing would be considered a rousing success! Not cause to begin a slaughter! Why should wolves be any different? Personally I don’t judge the ESA by how many animals have been de-listed, but rather by how many have been saved from extinction. I feel that that is the intent of the act. In some cases numbers may be so low, or habitat so fragmented, that de-listing may never be possible; whereas saving what’s left may be.
    As for the gray wolf, it’s not environmentalists, scientists, or the ESA that’s been keeping them on the list: it’s the stubborn politicians in Wyoming who insist on being buckaroos stuck in the 1800’s. Now their attitude is about to see de-listing in Montana and Idaho (though Idaho’s governor is doing everything that he can to stop de-listing there as well), while the population just continues to grow in Wyoming. Anyone in that state who wants to see these animals off the list should stop wasting their time writing to blogs, and start writing to their legislatures and governor.

  7. The rescue costs I was talking about would be for skiers caught in an avalanche. If they decide not to do avalanche control, the last thing they should do is allow skiers to go in from that area, they can get caught in an avalanche too.
    I have no problem with keeping the road open to Cooke City, but that is in Montana, not Wyoming, therefore their responsibility or the responsibility of NPS.
    As for foreign visitors,. no matter what they may or may not do for local economies, their visits should not be subsidized by Codyites not able to get in, or the Hawiians you were concerned about, or New Yorkers for that matter. They should pay whatever it costs per person to maintain the park.
    I must admit it amazes me that certain groups of people are terrified that food producers are being subsidized, whether they are or not, and yet they are freely willing to offer any subsidy to recreationalists, even those from other countries.

  8. You and I both know the entrance from cody isnt being kept open in the winter for rescue vehicles. It is all about business business business. What about hikers in the area hiking around unexploded shells that are leftover from avalanche control? The northwest entrance to the park has to be kept open and the road to cooke city and silver gate needs to be plowed regardless of the cost because people live there year round, visitors entering the park in the winter in gardiner is all added revenue to the park. I’m sure you have no problem with the money all those people from foreign countries bring into the local economy…

  9. On the other hand why should people in Cody have to pay to keep Yellowstone just for skiers? How much does it cost for each person allowed into Yellowstone in the winter, and how much does it cost to keep it open? Every person who goes into Yellowstone at any time is subsidized by the American taxpayer, including those from foreign countries, doesn’t that worry you about those folks in Hawaii? In the winter it is worse because you have so few visitors and so much expense.
    What about the cost to the Hawaiians if a skier gets caught in an avalanche since skiers will be allowed, jsut not motorized vehicles? Search and rescue or recovery are not cheap, especially if you are going to try to land a chopper in an avalanche prone, but not controlled area. Then of course the mega million dollar lawsuits would start.

  10. Marion, why should people in hawaii have to pay federal taxes to pay to keep sylvan pass open all winter into yellowstone? It only benefits a few business owners. Why should we pay federal taxes that are used to subsidize a few farmers with low cost use of public lands? It seems that you have no problem with handouts and unfair dividing up of costs as long as it benefits those who you feel it should benefit.

  11. Rob, it is probably not helpful to argue about this. I am a very strong believer in private property rights. I simply do not believe that anyone has the right to demand that someone else support a species for their entertainment. If you feel that strongly that every citizen has the right to have what ever you want raised on someone elses property, why would you not feel that the same citizens benefitting should pay the cost?
    Actually if you are going to have the right to make a half million people in the state of Wyoming care for wolves, why not have a city of half a million somewhere pay all of the cost? Not the same half million people do both. And the same with protected species everywhere, assign someone to raise them, and someone else to pay the cost.
    I think my idea is more workable however, and then we would be sure that what is protected was a priority because the expansion could not be without some control. And the American people would know what it actually costs for each one of these things.
    As for the grazing that was a part of the agreement waaaay back when they kept so much land public in our state. If you have good figures on the cost of grazing etc you have every right to try to make the case for getting it raised, but going in the back door with predators is less than honest.
    Also you must remember that rancher owned winter pasture and water supplies winter and summer are both vital to wildlife. When you end ranching you invite developers in. And you get places like Big Sky, Jackson Hole, Vail, etc.
    I have to admit that I am at a complete loss to understand why food producers are such a target for enviros. The other target is our energy producers.

  12. You seem to think that “private parties” are not citizens of the United States, with ownership in and responsibility for our public lands and wildlife. The fact is, wether those wolves are on public or private land, they belong to us all. Moreover, given the huge subsidies that attend grazing on public land, the fact that there is any (privately funded) compensation for livestock lost to wolves is more than generous,

  13. It definitely needs some changes. First the delisting number and rules should be a part of the listing process, then you wouldn’t have a situation like the wolves where we have nearly 500% of the goal for delisting, but that is not enough. That should never happen, that is control, not concern for endangered species.
    Second, private parties should not have to bear the cost of any of these “endangered” species.
    Third, the states should not have to bear the extreme costs themselves, if it is endangered, it is a benefit to the whole country.
    Congress needs to appropriate so many millions each year for endangered species, that money to identify, list, manage the species, and to pay for the lawsuits. If it is all used for lawsuits, then there will be no money for the species themselves. Perhaps if so much environmental money didn’t go to lawyers, there would be some of that money actually available to protect the species themselves.
    19 of the species delisted were delisted because they were listed in error. I don’t know how many millions of tax payer dollars were wasted this way, nor for that matter how much it has cost individuals for them. There must be good verifiable science proving that any species is truly endangered…and is indeed worth saving.
    Which brings us to the question can the ESA as it stands be redone well, or should it be tossed and start from scratch?

  14. They didnt get away with a lot of these shenanigans when republicans controlled congress, why do they think they can get away with it now?