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Endangered Species Day Highlights Need for Reform; Current Act Threatens Both Property Owners and Wildlife

5/10/2006 5:07:00 PM To: National Desk, National Center For Policy Analysis, 

DALLAS, May 10 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Early last month, Congress passed a resolution designating tomorrow Endangered Species Day. National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett suggests the day would be a perfect time to end the perverse incentives that pit property owners against wildlife.

"For too long bureaucratic wrangling has harmed both endangered species and people," Burnett said. "Instead, we should provide private property owners with an incentive to create, enhance and improve habitat for endangered species."

Seventy-five percent of endangered species depend upon private property owners for their habitat requirements in whole or in part. "The best solution is for property owners to be compensated when the government imposes restrictions to preserve species, just as they would if the land were taken for any other public purpose," Burnett added.

Since its inception, the ESA has produced little results in spite of its hefty price tag. Landowners and taxpayers have spent the equivalent of $3.5 billion annually in ESA-related activities and fewer than 6 percent of the 1,800-plus species listed as endangered or threatened through the ESA have been removed from the list. Most of those delisted were removed only because they were already extinct or were wrongly listed in the first place.

Burnett also pointed out that the science supporting delisting decisions and habitat requirements has too often been incomplete and flawed. As a result, species have been listed as endangered that weren't, and implementation of habitat protection requirements hurt the species they were meant to protect.

"Even if we get the science right, the ESA won't be improved if it doesn't provide people with positive incentives to promote species recovery," Burnett said. "It is important to create conditions under which both species at risk and people can benefit."

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The NCPA is an internationally known nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute with offices in Dallas and Washington, D. C. that advocates private solutions to public policy problems. We depend on the contributions of individuals, corporations and foundations that share our mission. The NCPA accepts no government grants.

 
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