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Visit the CBD Endangered Species Murals for Endangered Species Day

By Jeanne Dodds, ESC Creative Engagement Director and Roger Peet, CBD Mural Project Artist

Endangered Species Day is just over a month away, on May 17th, 2019. We invite you to participate in a creative approach to raising awareness about endangered species: visit Endangered Species Murals created by the Center for Biological Diversity mural artist Roger Peet and other contributing artists. Find the location of the Endangered Species Mural Project mural walls at the Endangered Species Day Event Directory.

You can also locate the addresses of all of the mural sites at the bottom of this post.

When you visit the murals, take a photo and upload it to instagram using the tag #endangeredspeciesmuralproject.

Or, tweet the image to your congressperson or other elected officials, letting them know you value endangered species and want the strong, effective species protections in the Endangered Species Act to be preserved.

Roger Peet talked with Jeanne Dodds about the mural project and shared ideas about spotlighting endangered species through art. Read his insightful comments in our interview and learn more by visiting the Center for Biological Diversity Endangered Species Mural Project’s page on their website.

You can also watch really cool time lapse videos of the Pronghorn and Rail mural being painted.

Video by Russ McSpadden, CBD

Video by students from Arizona Western College in Yuma, AZ

Interview with Roger Peet, Center for Biological Diversity Mural Project Artist

Jeanne Dodds, Endangered Species Coalition What inspired Center for Biological Diversity to initiate a series of murals depicting endangered species?

Roger Peet, Center for Biological Diversity The germ of the idea for the project came when Noah Greenwald, the Center’s Endangered Species Director, was visiting Sandpoint Idaho to do some work on the dwindling herd of Mountain Caribou that lived in the mountains nearby. While discussing the plight of these animals with a city council-member, the thought emerged that it was a pity that there was nothing in the town of Sandpoint to alert residents to the fact that there was this population of distinct, dramatic, charismatic and highly endangered mammals roaming the high peaks that are visible from town. The city councilperson opined that someone could paint a mural or something, and Noah, with whom I’d worked on several art projects for the Center and who was familiar with my work as an artist and muralist, thought: I know someone who could do that. We talked about the prospect of painting a mural, and agreed that we should try to paint more than one, to see how many we could create and how far we could make the idea go.

Border Wildlife Mural, El Paso, TX, by Roger Peet, Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado, Martin “Blast” Zubia from El Paso, and Ivan “Shack” Melendez from Ciudad Juarez. 

Border Wildlife Mural, El Paso, TX, by Roger Peet, Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado, Martin “Blast” Zubia from El Paso, and Ivan “Shack” Melendez from Ciudad Juarez.

JD What are the goals for the mural project?

RP Generally my response to this question is to say that we are trying, through these murals, to communicate about something that makes a place unique; the endangered species that inhabit different regions and communities across the country are part of what makes those places special, and are a part of the fabric of civic and environmental life and culture. Their loss would mean that the place where they were once found is much diminished, and that the people who live there have lost something that helped to define their home as somewhere different, a place with its own quality, character, and history. Species connect us to each other, and to deep time, and their loss impoverishes us all in novel and depressing ways. By celebrating them we help to celebrate ourselves, and to imagine our communities as whole places that value every part of the landscape and ecology that encompasses them.

JD What do you hope that the audience for this work takes away from seeing these murals?

RP My most basic hope is that they are inspired to learn more about the species that surround them, and in so doing acquire a deeper and more basic sense of themselves as part of a larger world, a larger biological context which is worth identifying with and worth defending. Beyond that I hope that people are driven to get involved in the transformation of their communities and societies, finding new ways to live in the world that do less damage to the land, water, and air that we depend on, developing new sets of responsibilities that they take seriously and teach to each other, to their children and to their parents.

California Grizzly Bear Series, Oakland, CA, by Roger Peet and Fernando "Rush" Santos

California Grizzly Bear Series, Oakland, CA, by Roger Peet and Fernando “Rush” Santos

JD What kinds of responses have you heard from individuals or groups viewing the artworks?

RP Well, painting a mural is pretty good for the ego- people walking by are generally pretty complimentary and as a mural progresses the comments get more and more enthusiastic. It’s always heartening to see young people interacting with these works, and especially so when they understand right off the bat what we’re trying to communicate. As a rule I think young people are more receptive to the ideas that we’re promoting, and are a really core audience that picks up what we’re laying down. Walking away from a finished mural in Cottage Grove, Oregon last year I saw a line of middle-schoolers walking past it and touching it as they passed, looking up at the image and stopping to read the explanation next to it. That felt like success.

JD What do you see as the value of art in communicating about biodiversity and species conservation?

RP Art can do a lot of things, but not everything, and it’s important to recognize that and to consider when art is useful in trying to achieve a result, and when another tactic might be better employed. For communication purposes, art does a pretty good job, and static pieces like murals can serve as landmarks and subjects of conversation over time. Art also confronts people with ideas that they might not like or that they might not initially identify with, and while it’s always best to consider a community’s sentiment when installing a work like this, a mural can serve as a way of stating a position, and create a line in the sand which helps people defend their points of view. One thing that I’m personally really interested in doing with my art is not to say that these species are sacred or to be venerated, but that they are a part of us, part of our daily lives, and deserve our respect and consideration.

JD As an artist, can you describe the creative process in developing and realizing a completed mural?

RP Each of these murals starts from the point of finding an appropriate wall. Once we have one in our sights, and have worked with the scientists and organizers at the Center to identify a candidate species that we’re hoping to represent, I or the other artist creating the mural will do a sketch of a design to be shown to all the parties involved in the project. If the idea meets with approval a more detailed design is created to summarize more precisely how the finished mural will look. Once that’s approved and everyone is one board we schedule a date to paint. At the site we clean and prime the surface and then trace the design onto it, either via projection or by gridding the surface with chalk line. Then we paint, usually filling in large areas of color first and then working back into it with more colors and more layers until we’ve covered the entire surface and are touching up the small details. We’ve learned a lot about different ways that murals go up, including a novel technique that involves painting the mural on a polyester substrate like the material that’s used to stiffen shirt collars (and comes in 5 foot wide rolls about 200 feet long) and then adhering it to the wall with a gel medium. This method is really great because it allows us to work indoors when it’s super hot, and also to take the mural into schools and allow students to work on it without the complication and hassle of getting them out to the site itself. Once we’re done we apply some sort of protective medium to protect against UV or less likely, graffiti. We’ve found that murals are broadly respected by street artists and don’t necessarily need a lot of protection, however. When we’re completely finished with all of these details we host a party, inviting local scientists, students and organizers as well as community members to help us celebrate the finished object, usually with music and snacks.

Pronghorn and Rail, Yuma, AZ by Roger Peet and Lucinda Y. Hinojos from Phoenix

Pronghorn and Rail, Yuma, AZ by Roger Peet and Lucinda Y. Hinojos from Phoenix

JD How can people become involved with this project to create a mural in their community?

RP Help us find a wall! The hardest part of this project is finding an appropriate place to paint, somewhere with good year-round pedestrian exposure, a nice smooth surface in good shape, and with an owner willing to leave it up for five years. Unfortunately we’re never going to lack for subjects, so we will go anywhere we can find a bit of funding and a wall to paint on. We rely on local partners to help us find places to paint and to connect with the communities where these murals are created, and building those relationships is a really important part of the project.

JD What actions can people take to support conservation of the species depicted in the murals?

RP One simple thing to do is to go to the Center website and sign up for email alerts. Staying educated and staying involved in local environmental politics is always important, and there are local organizations almost everywhere working to defend species and their habitat. If you can’t find one, maybe you could start one! 

Mural addresses

Sandpoint, ID: 110 US-2, 83864 Mountain Caribou

Butte, MT: 27 W Broadway St, Butte, MT 59701 Arctic Grayling

Minneapolis: 3500 Chicago Ave # A, Minneapolis, MN 55407,  Monarch Butterfly

Birmingham, AL: 7769 2nd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35206 Watercress Darter

LA: Miguel Contreras Learning Center 264 Lucas Ave Los Angeles, CA 90017 Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Tucson: 101 E Toole Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701 Jaguar

Knoxville: Third Creek Greenway Park, 35.95062022422822, -83.94202910972501 Freshwater Mussels

Portland: 2906 N Lombard St, Portland, OR 97217,  Streaked Horned Lark/Kincaid’s Lupine

Asheville, NC: 130 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801 (Underpass on the south side) Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel

Oakland, CA: 4248 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619,  California Grizzly Bear

Cottage Grove OR: 106 N 10th St, Creswell, OR 97426,  Taylor’s Checkerspot

El Paso: 1 Civic Center Plaza, El Paso, TX 79901,  (North side of complex, near N. Santa Fe St, Behind Film Commission) Borderlands Wildlife

Austin TX: 9303 FM 969, Austin, TX 78724,  Austin Blind Salamander

Yuma, AZ: Arizona Western College Theater Building, South Avenue 8 East, Yuma, AZ,  Sonoran Pronghorn/ Yuma Clapper Rail

Arcata, CA: 250 E St, Arcata, CA 95521,  Marbled Murrelet

Why Are Species at Risk?

For Endangered Species Day 2019, the Endangered Species Coalition is excited to share a new resource: a series of infographics designed to raise awareness of endangered and threatened species. The infographics are available to print and display in your school, place of worship, library, community center, or other location. Alternatively, you can share the infographics online, through social media or other channels. Create a stand-alone display using the infographics for Endangered Species Day, or use them as a visual at a bigger event. 

The first graphic, Why Are Species at Risk? explains the primary causes of species decline, highlighting habitat loss as the number one driver of endangerment. You can view and download all four of the infographics here.

Download the printable pdf of this infographic

Winners of 2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest Announced

Contact: David Robinson, drobinson@endangered.org, (951) 282-3665
Leda Huta, lhuta@endangered.org, (202) 320-6467

 

Winners of 2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest Announced

Oregon 1st-grader Wins Grand Prize, To Be Honored at Ceremony in D.C.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – The Endangered Species Coalition proudly announced the winners of the 2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest, including the grand prize winner, Sam Hess, a Portland, Oregon first-grader.

The contest was an integral part of the 14th annual national Endangered Species Day, which occurs on Friday, May 17. The art contest engages school children in grades K-12 in expressing their appreciation for our nation’s most imperiled wildlife, and promotes national awareness of the importance of saving endangered species. The winning art entries can be viewed online.
 
“We owe it to this generation of children to pass down healthy ecosystems brimming with wildlife,” said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “Every year, their artwork demonstrates how deeply they feel for nature and all of its wondrous creatures – large and small.”

Contest winners were selected by a panel of prestigious artists, photographers and conservationists. They include Andrew Zuckerman, a noted wildlife photographer, filmmaker, and creative director; marine life artist Wyland; Jack Hanna, host of Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild; David Littschwager, a freelance photographer and regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine; Susan Middletown, a photographer who has collaborated with Littschwager and whose own work has been published in four books; and Alice Tangerini, botanical illustrator for the Smithsonian Institution.

“Through the visual arts, I try to celebrate our vanishing species, and I am glad to be joined by these inspiring young artists,” said photographer Andrew Zuckerman. “I hope these artists and their images will encourage action to protect rare and endangered species for future generations.”

The 2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest winners are: 

Grand Prize: Sam Hess  (1st grade), Portland, OR
Second Place: Grace Ou (8th grade), Lexington, MA

First Place Winners in Grade Categories:

Grades K-2: Bruce Chan (kindergarten), Whippany, NJ
Grades 3-5: Sky Hana (5th grade) Des Plaines, IL
Grades 6-8: Evan Zhang (8th grade) Sudbury, MA
Grades 9-12: Krista Bueno (12th grade), Chantilly, VA

The grand prize winner will be honored at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Congressional Reception in Washington, D.C. on May 8 and will receive a special art lesson from a professional wildlife artist and $50-worth of art supplies of their choice.

Endangered Species Day was first proclaimed by the United States Congress in 2006. It is a celebration of the nation’s wildlife and wild places and is an opportunity for people to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species, as well as everyday actions they can take to help protect them.

Across the country, organizations hold special events to celebrate Endangered Species Day each year on or around the third Friday in May. For more information about the annual art contest, winners and Endangered Species Day, visit www.endangeredspeciesday.org.  

Posted in art |

The Winning Entries in the 2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

We are very happy to announce that the esteemed panel of judges has completed the very difficult task of selecting grade category and grand prize winners in the 2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest.

The Grand Prize Winning Entry is Texas Blind Salamander by Sam Hess.

Texas blind salamander

Second Place Winning Entry is: West Indian Manatee by Grace Ou.

West Indian Manatee

First Place Winners in Grade Categories:

Grades K-2 is: American Alligator by Bruce Chan.

American Alligator

Grades 3-5 is: Gila Chub by Sky Hana.

Gila Chub

Grades 6-8 is: Oahu Tree Snails by Evan Zhang.

Oahu Tree Snails

Grades 9-12 is: (Tie) Spectacled Eider by Krista Bueno;

Spectacled Eider

And Humpback Whale by Annette Yuan.

We are exceptionally grateful to every student that took part in this year’s contest. More than 1,300 entries were submitted and represented a diverse selection of threatened, endangered, or recovered species. We hope that the experience of researching these species and creating the art was enriching for all involved.

You can see all 40 of the semifinalist entries here.

Thank you and congratulations to all who took part!

Semi-finalists Chosen in 2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

The 2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest was an amazing success with more than 1,100 entries from students around the United States. Thank you to everyone who entered!

A panel of judges made up of educators and art instructors recently undertook the very difficult process of narrowing all of the entries down to just 40 entries (10 for each grade category). These semi-finalist entries are below!

 

2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

You can view them by grade category here:

Grades K-2

Grades 3-5

Grades 6-8

Grades 9-12

We anticipate the judges of the final winners and the grand prize winner will have their decision ready for announcement by the 10th of April.

Thank you once again to all who participated in this year’s contest! We hope it was enriching to learn about these imperiled or recovered species and are awestruck by the artistic submissions.

#BecauseLoboWeek

It’s that time again, y’all – #LoboWeek2019!

It has been 21 years since the Mexican gray wolf (also referred to as the Lobo) was returned to the wilds of southern New Mexico and Arizona. Their persistence, despite years of mismanagement and suppression, is astounding. So this week is to them! Raise your glasses and / or mugs in their honor!

To me, the lobo represents a fullness that flows beyond them. Their presence on the land depicts health and equity. Wolves are often linked to balance- keeping prey populations healthy, allowing vegetation to flourish, and thus providing habitat for other species and decreasing soil erosion. They provide us these gifts unknowingly and, I would assume, without care. They are just following their instincts, their internal nature.

I am grateful to the Mexican gray wolf and all they give to the Earth. And their unwavering drive to survive is nothing if not admirable. For better or worse, I see that same drive in humans. Perhaps it is that we see ourselves in the wolf and that is one reason why white settlers have traditionally feared and oppressed them. That mentality has permeated into an institutionalized bias against them that lingers to this day.

Humans account for the majority of all lobo mortalities. Too often, Mexican wolves are hit by cars, caught in traps, illegally poached, or lethally removed due to livestock depredations (that are often avoidable).  In 2018, 21 wild Mexican wolves were found dead, a 50% increase over the next highest year for wolf mortality, which was in 2016. Many of these mortalities are still under investigation.

However, the greatest threat to lobo recovery lingers beneath the surface. After being listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1976, a captive breeding program began. But the Mexican wolf was just one bad day away from extinction. Only seven individuals were able to be located in the wild. These seven wolves are the ancestors of all lobos alive today. But that makes the gene pool pretty slim. So slim that all the wild wolves today are estimated to be as closely related to each other as brother and sister. Low genetic diversity like this causes big problems in the animal kingdom. For the lobo, this means low birth rates, disease, a decreased ability to adapt to changing climates, and an overall harder time recovering.

Despite these barriers, they have persisted in the wild for 21 years now. But they need help. For almost four years now, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency is charge of lobo recovery, has relied exclusively on cross-fostering to increase genetic diversity. Cross-fostering is a strategy used by the Service, during which newly born pups are removed from a den and then either placed in a different den or replaced with captive-born pups. This strategy mixes up the genetics within packs. Wolves are notorious suckers for puppies (kind of like when you see a cute, chubby baby in the supermarket), so there is little risk of a “new” puppy being rejected. Cross-fostering is an effective strategy, however, some experts explain that it should not be the only strategy.

Releasing captive-born, bonded family packs into the wild has shown a high level of success and a high rate of survival. This strategy also allows for lots of new genes to be added to the population at one time and is not limited by external factors, as cross-fostering is. With cross-fostering, timing is everything. The captive-born pups must be very close in age to the wild-born pups. If these litters are not born close enough in time, the cross-foster cannot happen. Cross-fostering is also limited by the number of dens found by US Fish and Wildlife Service staff. If the wolves hide their dens too well, there will not be any cross-fostering that year.

Ensuring that the Service uses a variety of techniques in their plans to shepherd the lobo to recovery is imperative. At this point, it has been 204 weeks since any adult wolves were released into the wild. Please ask the US Fish and Wildlife Service to diversify their strategies in order to save the lobo from this genetic crisis.

#LoboWeek is a time for celebration. We tip our hats to their resilience and heart. This Lobo Week, please commit to educating yourself and talking with your family and friends about their plight. Give the lobo your voice by contacting US Fish and Wildlife Service. And keep the wolf energy alive by embracing the wildness within yourself. <3

Trump Administration to Strip Protections for Gray Wolves

Contact: Leda Huta, lhuta@endangered.org, (202) 320-6467

Tara Thornton, tthornton@endangered.org, (207) 504-2705

 

 Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) today announced its intention to remove Endangered Species Act protections for all gray wolves in the United States that are currently protected. The Endangered Species Coalition decried the move as political, and urged the Trump Administration not to abandon the still-recovering species.

“Wolves have only been restored in a tiny fraction of their historic and suitable range,” said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “Wolf recovery could be one of America’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories if the Fish and Wildlife Service would finish the job it started.”

There were once up to 2 million gray wolves living in North America, but the animals had been driven to near-extinction in the lower 48 states by the early 1900s. After passage of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973 and protection of the wolf as endangered, federal recovery programs resulted in the rebound of wolf populations in limited parts of the country. Gray wolves returned on their own to the Western Great Lakes region and northwest Montana and were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, where they have made a successful comeback. However, wolves are still struggling in areas of Oregon and Washington, while only a few have made it to California or the southern Rockies, where substantial areas of suitable habitat exist. Roughly 5,500 wolves currently live in the continental United States – a fraction of the species’ historic numbers.

“Without the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act, gray wolves would never have recovered in the places where they are now,” said Huta. “By removing protections across the country, the Trump Administration is essentially abandoning all efforts to restore this iconic American species to millions of acres of wild habitat.”

A similar proposal in 2013 outraged Americans: one million citizens submitted comments and 200 business leaders signed a letter in opposition to the plan to strip endangered species protections from gray wolves.

The wolf delisting notice was published in the Federal Register and will include a period for public comment, after which the rule can be finalized by the Trump Administration.

Massive Opposition to Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at BLM Hearing

On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a hearing in Washington, D.C. to receive testimony regarding their recent Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The room was packed with citizens greatly concerned about the threat of oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain, a pristine and ecologically sensitive wilderness area fought over by environmentalists and developers since the 1970s. The coastal plain, a 2,000 acre area, is considered the biological heart of the entire Arctic Refuge system because it provides critical habitat for hundreds of species, some of which, are facing extinction including polar bears, ice seals, and spectacled eider.

It is also essential to the 218,000 members of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, who depend on the Coastal Plain for calving grounds each year. In addition, more than 200 species of birds from every state and territory in the United States migrate to the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge each year. Moreover, the Coastal Plain is home to a variety of other species including coyotes, gray wolves, Arctic foxes, Red foxes, lynx, black bears, grizzly bears, wolverines, moose, muskox, dall sheep, walruses, spotted seals, beluga whales, gray whales, and bowhead whales.

Our colleague, Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Endangered Species Coalition member organization, Defenders of Wildlife, issued a press release on December 20, 2018 denouncing the draft EIS stating that “The administration’s Arctic Refuge leasing plan ignores science, turns a deaf ear to public opinion, attempts to skirt the law and paper over a disastrous decision that has already been made.” The Endangered Species Coalition  joins Defenders of Wildlife in strong opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as it is far too important to the survival of hundreds of wildlife species and will forever be destroyed should drilling be permitted.

The BLM is accepting comments on the EIS from now until March 13, 2019 and we ask that you submit one today stating your opposition to the plan and opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If you have questions or would like additional information, please email Katie Little at klittle@endangered.org. For more details on the EIS, please click here and for more information on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, please click here.

Celebrating Endangered Species Day at Children’s Museums

This post was originally published on the Association of Children’s Museums website.

Exhibit and education coordinators and other children’s museum staff often face a challenging assignment: creating an exhibit or activity that captures the interest of young people and offers a positive learning experience.

The 14th annual Endangered Species Day on May 17, 2019 provides children’s museums with an opportunity to highlight their educational programs and overall mission while also recognizing this nationwide celebration.

First approved by the U.S. Senate in 2006, the purpose of Endangered Species Day is to expand awareness about endangered species and habitat conservation and to share success stories of species recovery. Every year, museums, schools, zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens, conservation groups, parks, wildlife refuges and other locations hold Endangered Species Day events throughout the country.

There are several ways that children’s museums can observe Endangered Species Day on May 17 or another convenient time in May:

Prepare an exhibit. You could modify an existing display or organize a new one. This can feature dioramas, animal replicas, photos and artwork of endangered species and local habitats, books and other material as part of a temporary exhibit. The Endangered Species Day website includes a variety of resources, including a series of infographics that you can easily adapt to meet space limitations and other requirements. Even those museums that already have a full schedule of exhibits and other programs should be able to add a day or weeklong activity.

Invite a speaker. You can also invite a local expert from the Audubon Society or other group to speak about the actions people can take to help protect endangered animals and plants.

Offer specific children’s activities. Popular examples include a reading hour, an art table, bat box building, and milkweed seed bomb making (for monarch butterfly gardens). You can also invite people to take an animal tracking quiz—you can find one for your state by contacting the Department of Fish & Game or Department of Natural Resources (like these examples from Maine and Minnesota).

Engage your visitors. Encourage children (and adults) to express themselves about endangered species, their favorite animals, and what people can do to help. They can add their comments to a poster board or table journal. This may be the first time that many young people have talked about endangered species. Of course, it’s essential to highlight the positive, so be sure to emphasize the success stories of species recovery and that individuals can and do make a difference in protecting imperiled species.

Expand promotion. In addition to regular museum member outreach, share details of your exhibit/activity on the Endangered Species Day event directory or send the details to me (drobinson@endangered.org).

The Endangered Species Day website (www.endangeredspeciesday.org) features a variety of resources, including event planning information; a reading list; a series of infographics about endangered species conservation, actions people can take, and the Endangered Species Act; and color/activity sheets, masks, bookmarks, stickers and other material. Many of these can be downloaded and printed for use at your activity.

David Robinson is Endangered Species Day Director at Endangered Species Coalition. Learn more at www.endangeredspeciesday.org.

Interior finalizes Trump Extinction Plan

The Trump Administration, and the former Secretary of the Department of Interior, Ryan Zinke, are corrupt, riddled with conflicts-of-interest and under multiple-investigations. This Administration has just published final Endangered Species Act regulations. The regulations will undermine protections for our most imperiled wildlife. They will weaken biodiversity for decades and may drive species to extinction.

Yes – Zinke was fired in late December. But his replacement, David Bernhardt is no better than Zinke. In fact, Bernhardt led the crafting of these damaging regulations. And as a lobbyist, worked for dozens of  companies that will benefit from weakening the Endangered Species Act.

These regulations have become final despite the overwhelming opposition of American citizens–more than 866,000 submitted comments opposing these changes. In 2017, more than 420 conservation organizations signed a letter to Congress opposing any weakening of the Endangered Species Act.

The Act has a 99 percent success rate–saving plants and animals from extinction. And it protects the last remaining wild places. Species such as bald eagles, American alligator, humpback whale, Santa Cruz island fox, Tennessee purple coneflower and many more have recovered thanks to the Act. Hundreds more species have seen an incredible resurgence including the grey wolf, Grizzly bear, black-footed ferret, and Whooping crane. In passing the Act, Congress found that, “these species of fish, wildlife, and plants are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the nation and its people.” Apparently the Zinke-Bernhardt Interior Department, and their corporate smash and grab friends, feel differently.

Specifically, these regulations will bias listing decisions with unreliable economic analyses; make it much more difficult to protect species impacted by climate change; make it more difficult to list a new species and easier to remove those now on the list; make it harder to designate and protect critical habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife; reduce protections for threatened species; reduce voluntary conservation incentives and weaken the consultation process.

The regulations will have real-world negative impacts for the country’s most imperiled plants and wildlife, such as the monarch butterfly, sea turtles, manatees, wolverines, and hundreds more. Some of these species were profiled in a recent report by several conservation groups, led by the Endangered Species Coalition–Extinction Plan: Ten Species Imperiled by the Trump Administration.

Why? With so many crises in America to address, why did the Trump Administration decide to harm imperiled wildlife? The Act is successful and a decade of polling has consistently shown that the American public strongly supports the Endangered Species Act–90 percent in the most recent poll. Why make it a priority to gut a successful and popular law? Because corporate industry wants it weakened and they make enormous donations to political campaigns.

We at the Endangered Species Coalition, and our members and activists, are infuriated.

What can we do now?  These regulations will be final in 30 days. 

Congress can hold oversight hearings, posing hard questions to the Agency staff and scientists. They can enact new legislation or impose funding restrictions–if they have the votes. We must demand our congressional representatives hold hearings and perform oversight. We must inform the public about what has happened, and how it will hurt plants and wildlife.  

Most importantly, we must elect candidates in 2020 that respect nature, understand the need for biodiversity and have the intelligence to comprehend that what we do to our environment we do to ourselves. Elections matter to wildlife, too.

In light of the recent Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), assessment that we are in a biodiversity crisis and risk losing a million species over the next few decades, this is not the time to weaken the Endangered Species Act. 

Please consider contacting your local newspapers and elected officials and tell them about this travesty.