Many questions arise while the Endangered Species Act turns 40 this Saturday, December 28th. There have been many good and bad times that have happened over the years. Many animals on the list have started to thrive, including some that may lose protection because their populations are doing so well. While other animals still deal with loggers, cattle growers and various land owners complaining that the government supported law is unjust. Some critics even say that the few success stories of endangered species are evidence of a law that just isn’t working and is a waste of government money.
Now Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, has turned in a revisement on the current law called ‘The Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act.’ Mr. Paul is asking that the federal government needs to give the states more decision capabilities in determining how to handle endangered species problems. This means that every new endangered species listing would have to be approved by the states that are affected and congress combined. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services would have to pay losses, if the value of landowners’ property decreased due to any endangered species listings. Of course, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would not be able to regulate any endangered species if they only resided in one state as well. In turn, this whole revisement will give the states an option to rule over species protection when dealing with economic standards. This could potentially end up being lethal to many animals needing protection Vs. monetary gain for any state.
Some examples of animals that have been protected by the Endangered Species Act are black-footed ferrets, American Bald Eagle, prairie dogs, and many plants. The act has saved many species from the brink of extinction, and has protected over 1400 domestic wildlife, fish and plants, as well as 600 foreign species. Although, great things have happened with a variety of endangered species, much more work needs to be done in order to address poaching, habitat loss and pollution threats.
Just like the recent removal of the wolf from protection, now grizzly bears are in the spot light for removal. Over the years grizzlies have rebounded in their populations, which officials are asking if they can take them off of the endangered species list, especially within Yellowstone National Park. Many environmental groups are crying foul to this proposal, as it may only cause more problems again. If it wasn’t for the protections of the act, the black-footed ferret would not have repopulated 8 states by now. In 1981, it was once thought that the ferrets were extinct until a small population was found in Wyoming.
The grizzly bears have made great strides in population increases, but only very slowly. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering advanced plans to remove at least 700 bears that range from Yellowstone in North Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho from the endangered species list. In 1975, the grizzly was protected due to almost being wiped out from most of their home range. A decision is to be heard in January that may allow minimal sport hunting, but will continue to protect their habitat.
In Minnesota, there are many proposed, threatened and currently endangered species. Some of these animals are listed as threatened due to habitat loss, such as the Canada lynx. Not only is the lynx listed as threatened, but the habitat it resides in is listed with this beautiful cat. When a person looks at their state listings and proposals, note how long some animals are taking just to get onto this list. The eastern massasauga, a very small species of rattlesnake, has not been spotted for over 15 years. This reptile is still listed as a candidate for protection. So, there is obviously a lot to work on when such questions arise while the Endangered Species Act Turns 40.
By Tina Elliott