The Endangered Species Act is supported by most Americans; some studies suggest a 90% approval rating. It has done a lot of good things since it was enacted by Nixon in 1973. It is estimated that 227 species would be extinct today without its protections. Animals such as the Bald Eagle, the American Alligator, and California Condor have all been saved by the ESA.
In spite of all of the support for the law, Republicans are proposing to “modernize” the act by stripping away some of its provisions. They want to make it easier for states and businessmen to get around its restrictions. Environmental groups are up in arms with they what they call a “gutting” of the act. The Washington Post went as far to say the ESA may be headed for the threatened list.
So how did it come to this? Why are the Republicans trying to change a very popular law that has done a lot of good? It is because it is being abused. One group of people has used the law to impose their ideology on the rest of the country. They have been using the law to keep recovered animals on the list and all the burdens that go with it.
Animal Rights groups, such as the Center for Biologic Diversity, have placed so much red tape around the delisting process that it has become impossible for the ESA to work as it was intended. For example, after the gray wolf had met its recovery goal, the US Fish and Wildlife Service tried for over a decade to delist them. It eventually took an act of Congress to get them delisted in three states. Currently the House of Representatives just passed a bill delisting the rest of the wolves in the lower 48.
It was named the Endangered Species Act for a reason. Endangered animals are the ones that are supposed to be on it. Animals that have more than reached recovery goals should be removed and returned to state management, but that is not happening.
It took a decade for Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to become delisted, but as soon as there were returned to state management and a limited hunting plan was planned animal rights groups sued and a federal judge put them back on the list.
The animal rights organizations have a lot to gain by keeping these animals on the list. They have been using the law not for the animals benefit, but to line their own pockets. Fluffy iconic animals are a cash cow. Their entire fund raising enterprise revolves around them and the longer they can stretch out the delisting process the more money they can raise.
These organizations bring in millions of dollars a year and hardly any of it goes back to the animals. Habitat loss is the biggest threat to wildlife in North America. I have not been able to find one habitat restoration project they have funded. Not only that, they spend their money actively fighting organizations that do.
Also, if it was really about the animals, it would be about ALL animals. These groups do not care that some elk populations in Idaho have been decimated. They do not care that the only population of mountain caribou in the continental United States have been completely wiped out. They only care about the animals that bring in donations.
They claim that if the gray wolf and grizzly bear lose ESA protection, they will be hunted and wiped out. The only truth to that is that they will be hunted, and that should not scare anyone. States do a great job of managing animal populations. Since wolves have been de-listed in Idaho, their populations have continued to increase in spite of a vigorous hunting and trapping plan. Hunting will not destroy the populations; it will bring them into balance with the other game species that many rely on for food.
I wish the law did not need revamped, but it does. The animal rights groups have been holding states, counties, hunters, and landowners hostage for far too long. We need an Endangered Species Act that protects the animals and their habitat. We need to remove the mechanisms that these groups have used to line their pockets with no regard to the people or animal populations they hurt. So when these organizations start screaming that the act is being “gutted”, they need only go as far as the mirror to see who is to blame.