Blog

Wisconsin State Legislators New Bill on Wolves is Political Theater

Bill Would Block Wildlife Management and Encourage Poaching

Madison, WI – Yesterday, Representatives Jarchow, Felzkowski, Quinn and Senator Tiffany circulated for co-sponsorship, LRB 3737/1 which would make it illegal for law enforcement to enforce state or federal law relating to management of wolves in Wisconsin. It also does not allow the Department of Natural Resources to expend any funds relating to wolf management other than paying claims under the endangered resources program for damage caused by wolves.

The agencies work in partnership, not just for wolves, but for all of our wildlife in the state.

“This bill shows what we’ve known all along, and why we support continued protection for wolves under the Endangered Species Act – that Wisconsin policymakers aren’t up to task of responsibly managing wolves in our state,” said Melissa Smith, Great Lakes representative for the Endangered Species Coalition. “Wolves are part of Wisconsin’s natural wildlife heritage, and Wisconsinites don’t want to see them managed as pests or eradicated.”

They also claim that “wolves have taken over northern Wisconsin and that they are depredating our deer population, killing livestock and attacking family pets”.

Despite the record wolf population the depredations are significantly down (-36%, only 50 confirmed losses) and the deer population is massively increased due to mild winters. This bill is an affront to the majority of Wisconsin citizens who support this species, the federal supremacy clause, the federal courts, the public trust, and the Endangered Species Act. If this bill becomes law poaching of the gray wolf will be legal and could very well lead to a second eradication. These extremist legislators behind this bill massively underestimate the blowback from citizens (most who favor more wolves on the landscape by the DNR’s own social survey) that this bill will generate and it will open the door for other federal laws to be “invalidated” by arrogant extremists. It also opens the door to challenge this bill under the public trust doctrine and 14th Amendment.

Nancy Warren of National Wolfwatcher Coalition agrees, “Our wildlife management professionals have a responsibility to manage wolves and other wildlife in the public trust, and this ill-conceived bill ties their hands.”

“They’re trying to make the USFWS solely manage gray wolf conservation. It strikes me as these legislators hoping that if they stop enforcing the law and then FWS has to, that FWS will just throw its arms up in exasperation and stop caring. All the while the state acts with impunity to use bad science, enforce no anti-poaching laws, mismanage public trust assets, and lie, exaggerate, and distort, this bill being a perfect example”, said Vivian Morrison of Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife.

Advocacy groups will be sending a letter to State Legislators asking them to reject this absurd proposal and continue Wisconsin’s conservation legacy using science, law and democracy to protect our Natural Resources for future generations.

Primary Contact: Melissa Smith, Endangered Species Coalition,
msmith@endangered.org, 608-234-8860

Contact: Vivian Morrison, Board, Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf & Wildlife
wiforwolves@gmail.com,

Contact: Nancy Warren, National Wolfwatcher Coalition, nancy@wolfwatcher.org

In Recognition of Half-Earth Day, Groups Host Conversation with E.O. Wilson and Members of Congress to Save America’s Biodiversity and Protect Wildlife Corridors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In recognition of the planet’s first Half-Earth Day, join Wildlands Network and partners for “Wildlife Corridors and Saving America’s Biodiversity with E.O. Wilson” on Tuesday, October 24 from 1-3:30 p.m. at the Capitol Building Visitors Center Congressional Auditorium and Atrium.

World-renowned Harvard biologist Dr. E.O. Wilson will be joined by several conservation leaders and members of Congress, including Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) for a solutions-oriented conversation about wildlife corridors and other policies that can protect America’s wild creatures and places for generations to come.

“To preserve our wild heritage, we need to connect key habitat across the American landscape,” said Greg Costello, Wildlands Network Executive Director. “From the grizzly to the monarch butterfly, wildlife corridors allow us to steward some of our most treasured species. We’re excited to have the opportunity to discuss this critical topic with Dr. E.O. Wilson, Congressman Beyer and Senator Udall who are such great champions of protecting our natural heritage.”

Recent studies show we are losing our native species at an alarming rate: currently one in five U.S. species are threatened with extinction. However, strategies—like protecting wildlife corridors—exist to protect our America’s wildlife.

Renowned biologist E.O. Wilson recently authored the book Half-Earth- Our Planet’s Fight for Life in which he laid out a vision to save biodiversity.  Today, Dr. Wilson stated, “on this auspicious inaugural Half-Earth Day, a key issue addressed is the role of wildlife corridors, which would enlarge the nations protected areas and help achieve the goal of Half-Earth.  Corridors would protect large swaths of America’s wildlife and other fauna and flora, especially in this critical time of climate change and shifting locations of the original environments in which a large part of biodiversity has existed.”

“Our planet’s ‎wildlife is facing ever-increasing threats — from climate change to habitat destruction‎ — and we must take action at every level, from the U.S. Congress to the grass roots,” said Senator Udall, D-N.M. “E.O. Wilson has dedicated his life to understanding the importance of species diversity, and eloquently sharing his studies and enthusiasm with a broad audience. His voice is essential, and I’m honored to join him for this Half-Earth Day conversation to raise awareness about the need to protect habitat and rally Americans to action.”‎

Rep. Beyer, concerned with the critical need to slow the rising species extinction rate, understands the imperative of implementing wildlife corridors and other strategies to protect America’s biodiversity.

“I introduced the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act in 2016 to help protect the nearly one in five animal and plant species in the U.S. at risk of extinction,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “Much of the danger to our most endangered species comes from habitat loss, and scientists like Dr. E.O. Wilson have told us that connecting habitats to ensure safe travel between them is key to the genetic strength of threatened populations, and to biodiversity as a whole.”

From monarchs to mule deer, from Florida panther to pronghorn, wildlife corridors and other policies can safeguard these species from the threats of climate change and habitat loss, increasing wildlife movement between habitat areas by approximately 50 percent compared to areas not connected by corridors.

“There is no doubt that protecting wildlife corridors is one of the most important proactive steps that we have to safeguard our country’s wildlife and majestic public lands,” stated Robert Stanton, former Director of the National Park Service (NPS) and Endangered Species Coalition board member. “We are thrilled to help bring exciting ideas about saving biodiversity to Washington, D.C.”

Presentations and discussions will follow Dr. Wilson’s conversation with members of Congress. Presenters include Dr. Bruce Stein of National Wildlife Federation; Dr. Stuart L. Pimm of the Nicholas School at Duke University; Dr. Healy Hamilton of NatureServe; Dr. Jon Beckmann of Wildlife Conservation Society; Dr. Gary Tabor of Center for Large Landscape Conservation; and Dr. Ron Sutherland of Wildlands Network.

The event will wrap with a cupcake reception and an opportunity to meet E.O. Wilson, members of Congress, presenters, and other attendees.

E.O. Wilson and other speakers will be available for photos

This event is free and open to the public. RSVPs appreciated but not required. Please RSVP to info@wildlandsnetwork.org.

The event will be livestreamed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2q7nOx7fwrw

The Endangered Species Coalition Launches Pollinator Garden Effort

Plantings to Create Habitat for Imperiled Monarch Butterflies

Washington, DC – As part of its “Pollinator Protectors” campaign, the Endangered Species Coalition is sponsoring a fall series of pollinator garden plantings throughout the United States.

“It’s imperative that we do more to protect the at risk pollinator species— including those currently listed as threatened or endangered—by expanding their habitat with new pollinator-specific gardens throughout the country,” said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “Our Pollinator Protectors program is aimed at educating individuals and groups as to the importance of these gardens and providing the appropriate support to establish them in more locations.”

The pollinator garden planting series kicked off at the end of September and are scheduled to continue through October in these locations: Washington, D.C.; Helena, MT; San Diego, CA; Boulder, CO; Boise, Idaho; Spokane, WA; Indianapolis, IN; Roseburg, OR; Warrenton, VA; and Cherry Hill, NJ, with additional plantings planned for other locations during the year. As more planting events are created, they will be added to this map.

The Pollinator Protectors campaign is one of the Endangered Species Coalition’s key initiatives to help protect imperiled pollinator species. According to the Coalition’s 2014 report, Vanishing: Ten American Species Our Children May Never See, irresponsible pesticide use and habitat loss have significantly reduced the population of the rusty-patched bumble bee, Monarch butterfly and other native pollinators.

The Endangered Species Coalition also has helped expand Monarch butterfly habitat nationwide by organizing special milkweed garden plantings as part of its annual Endangered Species Day celebration – annually, on the third Friday in May. During the last three years, the Coalition has supported milkweed gardens in 40 locations in 15 states, with a new series of plantings set for next year’s Endangered Species Day on May 18, 2018.

To further support pollinator conservation awareness, the Endangered Species Coalition developed the Missing Species Report project, a special classroom curriculum for K-12 teachers and youth group and other educators. It includes extensive material on endangered species conservation and includes specific actions that people can take to protect pollinators and other threatened species.

The greater sage-grouse is in trouble… again… 😠

Between shrinking national monuments, cozying up with special interest, and making questionable travel choices, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has somehow found time to also direct the Bureau of Land Management to reconsider the Sage Grouse Initiative, despite years of hard work and collaboration.

Even though their numbers have plummeted by over 90%, the greater sage-grouse was denied listing in 2015 as the result of an unprecedented collaborative recovery effort across 10 Western states called the Sage Grouse Initiative.  This conservation effort cost hundreds of millions of dollars and is praised for its consideration of many different stakeholders- from ranchers to environmentalist.  But stretching across the aisle and compromising doesn’t seem to be something that Secretary Zinke values.  

The greater sage-grouse population used to number in the tens of millions, but thanks to poor farming practices and development, their numbers have dwindled to only a few hundred thousand since the early 1900s.  Sage-grouse are an “indicator species,” meaning their health (or lack thereof) reflects the health of their entire ecosystem.  If the sage-grouse is healthy, the sagebrush sea is healthy, too.  In addition to the greater sage-grouse, 350 other species rely on the sagebrush, including the incredibly fast pronghorn, the adorable pygmy rabbit ❤️, and the badass badger.  Unfortunately, all these species and more are suffering from an ever shrinking and disappearing habitat.  And to make matters worse, the Sage Grouse Initiative, along with years of work, could disappear, too.

This successful and collaborative effort to conserve the greater sage-grouse could be the best path forward for these imperiled birds. The initiative has been praised by governors and members of Congress from both parties, including Governors John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Matt Mead (R-WY) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) (If you’re in Colorado, thank Senator Bennet here! 👏🏽). Yet, Secretary Zinke wants to ignore all the progress to date and go back to square one.  A future Zinke-approved plan could be a giveaway to oil and gas interests intent on opening up even more sage-grouse habitat, putting these birds and countless other species at risk.

The greater sage-grouse needs your help! Please sign the petition to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke asking him to respect the existing Sage Grouse Initiative and abandon his plans to rewrite it!  

Seattle Photo Exhibition Shows Species At Risk

A pod of Southern Resident Killer Whales travels together against the backdrop of the setting sun in the San Juan Islands, Washington. A Mountain Caribou gazes between snow covered trees, one animal of the eleven total individual caribou remaining in the United States. A cryptic Northern Spotted Owl peers out from an old growth forest nest cavity.

Image credit: Chris Huss, Into the Sunset

Each of these regionally iconic species share a common thread: all are listed as threatened or endangered. The stories and images of these and other irreplaceable species are featured in a new, travelling visual art exhibition by the Endangered Species Coalition – Our Vanishing Future: Photographs and Illustrations. Photographer and professional tracker David Moskowitz, in collaboration with ESC, invited the participation of other renown wildlife photographers to present work highlighting significant North American plants and animals. These images, in combination with illustrations by the winners of the 2017 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest were presented at an initial show at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, WA.

Taking in the photographic work of Thomas D. Mangelsen at the exhibition opening

The show opening featured artist talks by photographer Paul Bannick and Chris Huss. Each artist shared powerful insights about their photographic careers and the power of images to educate and increase awareness of the importance of wildlife conservation.

Photographer Paul Bannick speaks about North American owls at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, WA

The goal of the exhibition is to raise awareness of the scope of threats facing our best-known animal and plant species in the United States. Artists participating in the show provided statements about these species, educating audiences about their unique habits and encouraging action in support of conservation. Opportunities to take immediate action at the show opening included writing postcards to congressional representatives to demonstrate enduring support for the Endangered Species Act. You can take action by signing our petition in defense of the Act.

Show attendees take action for endangered species

As the show develops, ESC is excited to bring these impactful images to other locations and to engage new audiences in conservation issues and actions. For additional information about the species highlighted in the exhibition, visit our Vanishing campaign.

 

Links:

2017 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

Wildlife Photographers featured in Our Vanishing Future: Photographs and Illustrations

April Bencze
www.aprilbenczewildlife.com

Paul Bannick
www.paulbannick.com

Kerri Farley
www.NewRiverNature.com 

Michael Forsberg
www.michaelforsberg.com

Steven Gnam
www.gnam.photo

Chris Huss
www.chrishuss.com

Thomas D. Mangelsen
www.mangelsen.com

David Moskowitz
www.davidmoskowitz.net

Dave Showalter
www.daveshowalter.com

Save our Endangered Salmon and Orcas: Join us Sept. 8-9 for Free the Snake Flotilla!

For far too long, the four outdated and costly dams in the lower Snake River have pushed our wild salmon and Southern Resident Orcas to the brink of extinction. 28 Pacific salmon stocks are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The status quo has already cost taxpayers more than $16 billion without recovering a single endangered salmon population. Furthermore, our Southern Resident Orcas only eat salmon, and new research has discovered that Washington’s Southern Resident Orcas are starving on our watch- with two-thirds of Southern Resident Orca pregnancies failing due to insufficient food. The Southern Resident Orcas are not only one of the most endangered species in Washington state; they’re also one of the most endangered animals in the world. We can’t restore this highly endangered population of orcas without restoring the salmon. Their fates are intertwined.

It’s long past time we urge our elected leaders to take swift and serious action to chart a path toward true recovery and a brighter future for our fishing, tribal and rural communities — and of course, our iconic wild salmon and Southern Resident Orcas.

Last year more than 400 people from throughout the Pacific Northwest came together in support of the return of a free-flowing lower Snake River. Join a growing movement on September 8 and 9 at Chief Timothy Park in Clarkston, Washington as we take to the water with one clear message: Free the Snake River! Bring your kayak, canoe, jetboat, dory, raft, pontoon, motor boat, drift boat or other vessel and join us for an easy paddle on the lower Snake River in support of removing four costly and destructive dams to restore a free-flowing river and wild salmon and steelhead. There will also be a family-friendly event featuring music performances and speakers for those who want to join the event from land.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to restore one of the world’s greatest salmon rivers. Together we can free the Snake River, restore our wild salmon, Southern Resident Orcas, and our Northwest way of life.

For more information and to register: www.freethesnake.com

Hope to see you on the water!

Former Director of National Park Service Joins Endangered Species Coalition Board

Washington, D.C.—Robert “Bob” Stanton, former Director of the National Park Service (NPS) and former Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, has joined the board of directors of the Endangered Species Coalition, a well-regarded advocacy nonprofit working tirelessly to protect our nation’s natural heritage.

“I am indeed honored and privileged to have been given this opportunity to serve on the Endangered Species Coalition Board. The work of the Endangered Species Coalition, through its cooperative and collaborative relationships with diverse audiences, is critically important to achieving and sustaining the protection of endangered species. This work demonstrates our individual and collective responsibility for preserving the nation’s wildlife and habitat and passing on this rich natural heritage to future generations. Drawing on my 35-year career with the National Park Service. I hope, that in some small way, I might be able to contribute to the advancement of the Endangered Species Coalition’s goals and programs,” stated Stanton.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed Stanton as the 15th director of the NPS, a position in which he served until 2001. The first African American to be appointed as Director of the NPS, Stanton was introduced to conservation in 1962 while serving as a seasonal park ranger at Grand Teton National Park after his junior year in college—an opportunity made possible by then Interior Secretary Stewart Udall.

“I have had the privilege of knowing Robert for years. My father always admired Robert for his passion and hard work to conserve America’s wild places and creatures. I am looking forward to working with him on the ESC Board. His vision, piercing intellect, and gracious character will be a great enhancement to the Board,” stated long-time conservationist and board member, Lori Udall.

Stanton has joined a board that also includes decades-long forest protection activist, Michael “Brock” Evans, retired U.S. Marine Corps General Rick Kelly, and newly elected board chair, William Snape III, an assistant dean and professor at American University’s Washington College of Law and senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“Our organization literally represents the strength and breadth of America’s love for wildlife and wild habitat.  Robert Stanton clearly makes us even stronger. Now more than ever, we stand ready to protect the unbreakable trust to preserve endangered species for our children and grandchildren. Today’s politics may be complicated, but our commitment to this country’s beautiful natural heritage has never been greater,” said Snape. 

The Endangered Species Coalition is a national grassroots organizing nonprofit that focuses on keeping the Endangered Species Act and its protections for wildlife and plants strong.

Take the August Recess Challenge to Stop Extinction and Help Stop Congress from Gutting the Endangered Species Act!

The Endangered Species Act is one of the country’s most important and powerful conservation laws. It has a whopping 99 percent success record at preventing the extinction of species in its care and has helped to save iconic American wildlife such as bald eagles, peregrine falcons, gray whales, green sea turtles, and grizzly bears, just to name a few.

Alarmingly, Congress is considering multiple pieces of legislation that could radically weaken this bedrock law. Congress needs to know that Americans do not support these efforts. By taking the Stop Extinction Challenge, you can help to protect the Endangered Species Act and the plants, fish, and animals it protects.

An astounding 24 bills attacking the Endangered Species Act (ESA) have already been introduced to the House of Representatives and Senate this session. Included among them are bills to legislatively delist wolves in as many as four states, slash funding for recovery programs, and even to turn listing decisions over to politicians at the state level instead of scientists.

The August Stop Extinction Challenge will help to stop these bills and allow you to take your advocacy for wildlife to the next level. There is also a cool prize or two if you complete each step!

TAKE THE CHALLENGE

The first step is to commit to meet with your senator or representative or their staff by requesting a meeting in August.

Step 1: Visit your senator’s or representative’s local office or attend a town hall

When congressional staff members are asked, they will tell you that one of the most effective ways to help shape the outcome of legislation is to meet in person with the congressperson or their staff. While calls, emails, and tweets are very important, the act of physically voicing your concerns reigns supreme.

Members of Congress will be home in their states and districts for at least the last two weeks of August. This is our collective opportunity to stop these bills and keep the Endangered Species Act intact. Please take the first step in the August Stop Extinction Challenge and find an office or town hall and commit to go and make your voice heard!

VISIT AN OFFICE OR TOWN HALL

To prepare you for your visit or town hall, we have created materials you can download and read or bring with you to leave with the office. 

Materials to read | Materials to print 

Step 2: Call your senators

The second step in the Stop Extinction Challenge is to call your senators.

Calls into Congress have made a difference in past legislative fights. It only takes a minute of your time to make a call and can help to save endangered species. We will provide talking points and connect you with the office of your senators. You just need to pick up the phone!

CALL YOUR SENATORS

Step 3: Take action on social media

The third step is to tweet or post to your senators’ and representative’s Facebook pages.

Posting to your elected representative’s social media pages is a way to both get your message across and alert others to the need to take action. Click the button to tweet or post to your senators’ Facebook pages in just a couple clicks.. We’ll match you with your senators’ Twitter and Facebook profiles and help you write a compelling tweet or post.

TAKE ACTION ON SOCIAL MEDIA  

Step 4: Submit a letter to the editor of your local paper

Submitting a letter-to-the-editor is an almost certain way to get your elected officials’ attention. Everyone in Congress reads their local papers (or has staff read them) and when constituents write about matters before them, they take notice. Especially if you mention them by name. Click the button to go to a page where we’ll match you with your local paper and provide a draft letter for you to edit and send.

SUBMIT A LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Step 5: Tell us how it went and we’ll send you a prize!

Now that you’ve taken action online, take action offline by going to that meeting or walk-in office visit! Let us know you have scheduled a meeting here and report back on how it went here. If you complete all of the actions, we will send you an “I Stopped Extinction” tote bag as a small token of thanks for your efforts!

REPORT BACK

Overwhelming Support for the Endangered Species Act

 

For Immediate Release: July 6, 2017

Endangered Species Coalition contacts:  Leda Huta (National) lhuta@endangered.org, (202) 320-6467; Aaron Tam (Pacific NW) atam@endangered.org; Hailey Hawkins (S. Rockies) hhawkins@endangered.org, (662) 251-5804; Melissa Smith (Midwest) msmith@endangered.org, (608) 234-8860; Tara Thornton (New England) tthornton@endangered.org, (207) 504-2705; Derek Goldman, (N. Rockies) dgoldman@endangered.org, (406) 721-3218.

Showing Overwhelming Support for the Endangered Species Act, More Than 400 Conservation Groups Sign Letter Opposing Efforts to Weaken Wildlife Law

Washington, DC – Four hundred and twenty-five national, state, and local conservation groups sent a letter to the Senate and House leadership Thursday demonstrating their overwhelming support for the Endangered Species Act. Referencing the “unprecedented threat” faced by the Act in Congress, the groups strongly opposed any weakening of the Act under the guise of efforts to “modernize” or “reform” the Act. The groups—at least one from each of the 50 states—indicated that any “efforts to rewrite this law would prove disastrous for imperiled wildlife and should be strongly opposed.”

“Americans know that we have a responsibility to our kids, grandkids and great-grandkids to protect endangered species and the places they call home. They know the Endangered Species Act works, and they are incredibly worried that politicians in Congress are seeking to undermine this safety net for plants and wildlife on the brink of extinction,” stated Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition.

Led by the Endangered Species Coalition, the letter included many of the country’s largest conservation groups, including Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and We Act for Environmental Justice. The call to protect the nation’s rich biodiversity of plants and animals for future generations included hundreds of state and local conservation groups from every state.

Today’s letter cites the Act’s reliance on science, its provisions for citizen engagement, and its popularity with Americans across the political spectrum. Although some members of Congress are now seeking to weaken the Act, public opinion research indicates that the law continues to maintain broad, bipartisan, public support. A 2015 poll conducted by Tulchin Research found that 90 percent of American voters across all political, regional and demographic jurisdictions support the Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Species Act was a landmark conservation law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 92-0 in the Senate, and 394-4 in the House. And the letter highlights its 99 percent success rate, noting some of the country’s most exciting wildlife recoveries, including bald eagles, humpback whales, American alligators, Channel Island foxes, Tennessee purple coneflowers, and more.

Bald eagle photo credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This image and others representing above species are available for media use.

“Not only is the Endangered Species Act our safety net for wildlife, plants, and fish, but it can also protect species critical to human health and wellbeing, such as bees and other pollinators,” said Huta. “Furthermore, the Act’s protection of biodiversity is critical for vulnerable communities which are often on the frontlines of environmental destruction and have the most to lose.”

The groups called on legislators to “support the Endangered Species Act and oppose any bill, rider, or other policy proposal that weakens protections for endangered species and habitat.” Instead, the letter noted the decrease in funding of the Endangered Species Act since 2010 and called on legislators to “seek full funding and comprehensive implementation of the Act.”

The full letter to Senate and House leadership can be read here.

 

###

 

 

Don’t “Modernize” the Endangered Species Act, Just Fund It!

This is a guest post from Rick Lamplugh, an author and wildlife advocate from Gardiner, Montana. Rick writes to protect wildlife and preserve wildlands. He lives near Yellowstone’s north gate and is just finishing his new book, Deep into Yellowstone: A Year’s Immersion in Grandeur and Controversy. He is the author of the Amazon bestseller In the Temple of Wolves, available as eBook or paperback or as a signed copy from Rick.

__

The Endangered Species Coalition is bringing me and a number of other advocates to Washington, D.C. for a couple days to lobby for the Endangered Species Act. I respect the work of this national coalition of hundreds of conservation-minded organizations, and I’m glad to go. To prepare, I’m researching and writing. Here’s some of what I’ve found.

The ESA faces a coordinated attack. One of the attackers is U.S. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT)—the same politician who wants to sell off our public lands. Another is U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY). He wants to “modernize the ESA.” (Conservationists know that what he really means is “gut the ESA.”) He says that less than 3 percent of protected species have recovered enough to no longer need protection. Then he proclaims, “As a doctor, if I admit 100 patients to the hospital and only 3 recover enough under my treatment to be discharged, I would deserve to lose my medical license.”

That’s a good sound bite. But let’s take his medical argument further. 

Photo of grizzly and wolf (both beneficiaries of ESA) via public domain

Consider a species being placed under ESA protection as similar to an ailing person’s ambulance ride to the emergency room. Once the patient arrives, the hospital must spend money to diagnose and fix the problem. More must be spent on follow-up to make sure the treatment worked. If a hospital failed to spend this money, the patient would not get better. But that wouldn’t be the fault of the ambulance that delivered the patient. 

In truth, listing a species under the ESA—giving it the ambulance ride—is the relatively easy step. Once listed, time, resources, and money must be spent to implement a plan that will fix the problems that create the threat. That money is not being spent. The ESA is not the problem. The problem is shortsighted politicians refusing to fund it adequately.  

The Center for Biological Diversity (a member of the Endangered Species Coalition) studied ESA funding and found it has been “chronically and severely underfunded.” Yet even while shortchanged, the ESA has been—contrary to Senator Barrasso’s claim—incredibly effective. It has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of species under its protection and put hundreds of species on the road to recovery.

The Center determined that the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s current annual budget for recovery of the more than 1,500 protected species is $82 million per year. That covers little more than basic administrative functions.

In their estimation, “…fully implementing recovery plans for all listed species managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service would require approximately $2.3 billion per year, about the same amount that’s given to oil and gas companies to subsidize extraction of fossil fuels on public lands and a tiny fraction of the roughly $3.7 trillion federal budget in 2015.”

The Center’s solution is simple: increase annual appropriation for endangered species recovery over the next 10 years. 

In other words, Dr. Barrasso, if you really want to modernize, spend the money to treat the patient that the ambulance delivered to you for help.


This post originally appeared June 14th, 2017 on Rick Lamplugh’s blog.