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Issue Alert from
Media attack proponents of strengthening the Endangered Species Act
By Gretchen Randall
Date: January 19, 2005
Issue: As expected, media stories are already attacking efforts to update and strengthen the Endangered Species Act. Sunday's Boston Globe printed a Reuters story which made several accusations and misstatements that I want to correct:
Reuters: "Currently 518 species are listed under the act."
Correction: Today there is a total of 1264 species listed in the U.S. including plants and animals — both threatened and endangered. 518 of those are animals and 746 are plants.
Reuters: "…a second Bush term provides critics of the act a prime opportunity to push Congress for changes that would help open up vast stretches of wilderness for development."
Correction: Absolutely untrue. Wilderness is federally protected and cannot be developed, grazed, farmed, mined or have motorized vehicles used on it.
What proponents of strengthening the Act want to do is help more species recover. In the 31 years since the Act was signed by President Nixon, only 12 species have been recovered out of more than 1300 that have been listed. This is less than a 1% recovery rate. We must do better.
Reuters: "The most controversial proposal is to change the law so it requires the use of 'best science' rather than 'best available science' to determine if a species is endangered."
Correction: There is no proposed legislation at this time. Changing "best science" to another term only makes sense if it helps recover more species.
Reuters: "Critics say a species can be listed without much documentation."
Correction: Listing species should not be our goal. The goal should be de-listing them due to recovery.
Reuters: "There have been success stories…the grizzly bear…the alligator, the brown pelican and the gray wolf."
Correction: Yes, both the peregrine falcon and the bald eagle have been recovered. The falcon recovered due to the work of a private conservation group and the bald eagle due to a ban on its hunting and restrictions on the use of DDT — not the Endangered Species Act.
Link: Read the report "The ESA at 30: Time for Congress to Update & Strengthen the Law" at http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/issues/more/esa/whitepaper.htm
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