Republicans have proposed an overhaul to the Endangered Species Act, which was enacted by President Richard Nixon in 1973. The request comes at a time when a minnow, the Oregon chub, no longer faces extinction and is on its way to being removed from the Endangered Species List.
The overhaul of the Endangered Species Act is based on the millions of federal and state funds that are spent each year, while only two percent of the animals have recovered. The goal is to amend the act, not do away with it, adding restrictions to lawsuits by environmentalists.
A representative from the Endangered Species Coalition, Derek Goldman, claims that the law has been a success. He cites that only 10 species have gone extinct since the law was passed.
As the Republicans propose the change, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made an announcement Tuesday to propose the removal of the Oregon chub from the Endangered Species List. These fish are the size of a minnow, at roughly three inches long. They are identifiable by their olive-green, black and silver coloring.
The water they depended on had been drained to reduce flooding in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Survivors became part of the food chain for bass coming in from the East. Recovery efforts have been in place since 2005. Restoring habitats, breeding and transplanting fish contributed to their success. They were also easier to save than other animals because they were contained in a small, controllable environment. Their restored habitats are also home to pond turtles, salmon and red-legged frogs.
The minnow-like fish must wait out a 60-day period for public comment before it can be made official. Going forward, the fish will be monitored to be sure they continue at their current growth rate.
The Endangered Species List has five levels of concern, from least concern to critically endangered. Animals on the list have had mixed results. Grizzly bears and gray wolves, for example, are being considered for removal from the list as their numbers continue to grow. The spotted owl remains endangered due to the aggressive barred owl. As an experiment, the barred owls are being relocated to give the spotted owl a better chance of survival. The bald eagle was removed from the list in 2007 and currently exists in 48 states. They would not have survived without help from the act to protect their habitat and ban the pesticides that threatened their existence. The Caribbean monk seal, however, was taken off of the list due to extinction.
Republicans aim to give more control to the states within which the endangered animals reside. They claim that the act encourages environmentalists to list animals rather than save them and take them off of the list. Previous attempts to overhaul the Endangered Species Act have failed, including an attempt in 1990 and another in the last decade. The last change occurred in 1980. It is unlikely that the proposal to change the act will succeed this time, mainly due to the partisan divide. Furthermore, the proposal to remove the minnow from the list shows that the program does work.
By Tracy Rose