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Earlier this year, I wrote about an unparalleled assault on the Endangered Species Act after an amendment to the federal budget bill specifically excluded gray wolves in Montana and Idaho from protection. Since then, things have gotten worse both for the wolves and the ESA.

Last week, the bad news came from the state of Wyoming. The state is very close to having an approved plan that would put wolves under state management. Unfortunately, Wyoming's idea of a wolf-management plan may have more in common with the buffalo massacres of the 19th century than with responsible science. If state regulators have their way, most of the wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park would be on "shoot on sight" predator status. Nearly half of Wyoming's endangered wolves could be killed.

Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that Wyoming's wolves should be managed at least as responsibly as in other Rocky Mountain states.

Unfortunately, what has happened to gray wolves is only the beginning. Already, other species are being singled out by politicians who want to circumvent the ESA. The sand dune lizard in Texas and the lesser prairie hen in Oklahoma were each the subject of recent amendments in the Senate that would have exempted them. More such attempts are sure to follow.

At the same time, though, congressional opponents of the Endangered Species Act are trying to cripple the law itself. Current proposals include prohibiting consideration of the impact of climate change on species, decimating or outright eliminating programs that work with landowners and others to promote wildlife conservation, and even forbidding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to spend money on new listings of threatened and endangered species or on designations of critical habitat for current species.

Apparently, it's open season on the Endangered Species Act -- a law that for nearly 40 years has successfully prevented the extinction of plants and animals and helped threatened populations recover. The ESA has worked because it's based on sound science and backed by the rule of law. But once you start undermining the law to satisfy the demands of special interests, each new crack in the foundation weakens the entire structure.

The timing couldn't be worse. The reality is that the work of protecting species will only get tougher on a warming planet as habitats shift and the scramble for scarce resources intensifies. Even with the protections afforded by the ESA, some species aren't going to make it. If we allow greed and politics to take the place of science and the law, then the wolves, the panthers, the polar bears, and, yes, the sand dune lizards, won't get even the chance to survive. 

Originally posted to Michael Brune on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 09:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Since we can't even reach consensus (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on saving our OWN bacon ... I fear that committment to conserving other species will indeed be a thing of the past.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 09:22:47 AM PDT

  •  What you are seeing is a very predictable backlash (0+ / 0-)

    and a lot of it is due to attitudes and opinions as at the beginning of your diary.

    The gray wolf is not endangered. It has been removed from the list in the upper Rockies and will be shortly across the midwest and Wyoming. Saying that it is, when it isn't, is exactly the problem. And remember, it never was endangered biologically, ever. It's listed by the IUCN having the very lowest designation, on a par with the gray squirrel or the robin.

    Radical so called environmental groups have done this. First they lost the support of the scientists, then they lost the support of the hunters. Now they have only themselves.

    The threat to the Endangered Species Act is very real, but the reason for the threat was apparent to any one watching a long time ago, it began with the take no prisoners litigation from a few nutty groups. Defenders of Litigation Diversity.

    Any money you send to a radical environmental group further endangers the act. If you want to help call your congressman or join one of the responsible groups like the Wildlife Federation.

    "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 09:30:34 AM PDT

    •  It's not that cut and dried (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Orange County Liberal

      First, let me note that my ancestors include, in addition to miners, ranchers and farmers.  Second, I had a chance to research wolves emigrating across from Canada into Montana in the late 1980s as a student with the Wolf Ecology Project.  As part of that research, we interviewed ranchers and sportsmen in the North Fork of the Flathead area of Montana (from Kalispell northward).  There was a tremendous diversity of opinion among these folks on the questions of wolves, depredation, and protection.

      The National Wildlife Federation acknowledges that (a) the wolf, which was once widespread across much of North America, was "hunted ruthlessly and extirpated over most of its range;" and (b) "is making a successful comeback in some of its former habitat due to strong conservation efforts;" and (c) plays a vital role in the health and proper functioning of ecosystems."

      Additionally, here's the bio of one of the top officials at NWF:

      Hank Fischer, Coordinator, Special Projects
      Hank holds an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, where he studied wildlife biology and journalism. From 1977-2002, Hank covered the Northern Rockies (Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming) for Defenders of Wildlife. He has been intensively involved with endangered species restoration, particularly with efforts involving wolves, grizzly bears, and black-footed ferrets. In 1987, he created Defenders of Wildlife’s Wolf Compensation Trust, which uses private funds to compensate livestock producers for verified livestock losses caused by wolves

      Note Hank's involvement and innovation in developing the Wolf Compensation Trust, while working at Defenders of Wildlife--one of the organizations you apparently do not like.  The Trust has been remarkably successful to date.

      That being said,  many of the scientists who worked on, and supported, wolf recovery also supported some form of delisting--although not via legislation--in 2008.  Here's a link to a decent article from 2008 on the subject:

      BUT, here's a letter from over 1,000 scientists opposing legislation resulting in delisting of any particular species, and arguing that "objective scientific opinion and methods:

      This quote from the letter refers specifically to the wolf:

      For example, congressional proposals to delist the gray wolf forgo scientific
      determination of whether the species, or populations of the species, have recovered and whether
      sufficient regulatory mechanisms are in place to ensure the species’ survival. In the northern Rocky
      Mountains the return of wolves has restored key predator-prey dynamics in and around Yellowstone
      National Park that have resulted in changes throughout the entire ecosystem. To remove protections
      for wolves before the best available science tells us recovery is ensured would place one of our
      country’s greatest conservation success stories at risk.

      Having Congress act to de-list the wolf, rather than having the agency specifically tasked with the decision do so on the basis of scientific evidence, will result in the eventual disintegration of the ESA.  That--and not the wolf alone--is the reason to fight this legislation.

      •  I was aware of hanks work for Defenders (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        of Wildlife. Their compensation plan at first successful has now failed, it's no longer in place.

        I'm also aware of formerly broad support for reintroduction amongst hunters, I was one.

        What changed all of our minds was the efforts to avert delisting after the animal was recovered. It was then that we realized Defenders and many other organisations would never support delisting if it involved normal control measures as for all other large mammals.

        We realized then that many of these orgs were simply anti hunting.

        A thousand scientists is meaningless in this day and age of climate change deniers. I'm reminded of that old NPR spoof on science show, "ask Dr Science".

         I give more credence to those scientists working with the animals day in and day out, the ones we pay through taxes to study the animal, the ones who multiple times suggested delisting.

        Ultimately the fault is on those who decided to foist an animal on a population who didn't want it. It caused such a backlash that any politician Democrat or Republican who wanted to keep their jobs had to pass on this one issue, and every politician from all those states affected had to make the issue go to the top of their list.

        I and many other people used to assume that any environmental org had interests aligned with my own. Now the assumption is the opposite until I know otherwise, and that includes the Sierra Club.

        "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

        by ban nock on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 01:50:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I spent a summer working around Boyd, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ban nock

          one of the scientists in charge of the Wolf Ecology Project (and who supported delisting), and Mike Fairchild, and I think those two know as much or more about wolves as any living person (L. David Mech included).  I'm pretty sure Fairchild did not support delisting.

          I'm not a scientist, so I cannot declare who is correct, from a scientific standpoint.  But, there is not an actual consensus in the scientific community on this issue--except as to whether it would be a good idea to pass Congressional legislation--for the first time ever--specifically targeting one species for delisting.  On that, scientists seem to be fairly strongly against.

          I do think there are environmental/ecology orgs, such as NWF, that continue to try to work closely with sportsmen/women.  Not all are anti-hunting.

  •  ban nock (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock

    ban nock is dead on re: wolves.  We far exceeded the ESA goal here in Wisconsin.  Every attempt to delist has been stymied by lawsuits.  Now there is an attempt to confuse the issue here with eastern gray wolves as an end around to continue the ESA protection here.  I fear that it will take an act of congress to get them delisted here so that we can manage them as well.

    •  I've only been half paying attention to the upper (0+ / 0-)

      great lakes. I knew that the F+W was saying there are 2 species but was unaware of how that might affect delisting.

      I'd hope they get it together as eventually it will affect Wisconsin's famous white tails, and the southern part of the state is heavily populated with humans.

      "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

      by ban nock on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 01:56:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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