ESA Attacks From All Sides

For most Americans, summertime is a chance to finally enjoy the great outdoors and appreciate the incredible diversity of native wildlife our country has to offer. It’s time for swimming at the beach and watching shorebirds, hiking in the mountains through fields of wildflowers, and spending lazy afternoons fishing on our nation’s lakes and rivers.

But in recent years, summer has meant the exact opposite here in D.C. It’s time for wildlife opponents in Congress to make their sneak attacks on some of America’s most imperiled plants and animals by cutting holes in our nation’s safety net—the Endangered Species Act.

Polar bear cubs, courtesy USFWS

Polar bears would lose federal protection under a Farm Bill amendment introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

The latest onslaught started last week with an insidious rider proposed to the Senate Farm Bill that would eliminate protections for polar bears, Florida panthers and hundreds of other species that exist in only one state.  That was followed quickly by another proposed farm bill amendment that would make it virtually impossible to protect species on private lands by mandating onerous economic analyses and discounting valuable scientific information. We should be doing everything we can to rescue America’s imperiled wildlife, not throwing up additional roadblocks that will push them closer to extinction.

This week, we’re anticipating several more anti-wildlife provisions to be introduced that would eliminate vital protections for endangered species and the habitats they depend on for survival.

First up is a bill that includes an array of nightmarish attacks on our public lands and wildlife.   One of these could spell disaster for jaguars, caribou, lynx, grizzly bears and dozens of other species along our borders. This provision, which was introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), would waive about three dozen essential environmental laws on Federal public and tribal lands within 100 miles of our borders with Canada and Mexico.  In addition, the bill would give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unilateral authority to engage in numerous destructive activities on Federal public and tribal lands anywhere in the U.S., regardless of protective status or proximity to the border.  If passed, the law would allow DHS to build roads through wilderness areas, erect fences around key wildlife habitat and restrict access to national parks without any public involvement whatsoever.

But as two thoughtful ranchers point out in an op-ed for the LA Times, the disastrous border provisions are completely unwarranted. Many landowners already work very closely with border patrol agents to make sure our border regions remain safe without discarding America’s most important environmental safeguards. In another fantastic op-ed for U-T San Diego, a returning Iraq veteran makes the case that our public lands are a source of inspiration and healing for our troops, both when they’re abroad and when they return home.  Rep. Bishop may offer an amendment to this provision on the House floor, but it will do little to address the most significant problems with the legislation.

Crushed nesting loggerhead

Last year, this loggerhead was crushed by an off-road vehicle while nesting on Cape Hatteras shores.

Another provision in the same bill would undo critical protections for piping plovers and sea turtles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The National Park Service finally announced new rules earlier this year to restrict access to the beach and put a stop to the destruction caused by excessive off-road-vehicle use. Nesting populations of shorebirds and sea turtles have started to recover since 2008 when interim regulations were put in place. Let’s not turn back the clock by allowing Congress to override necessary protections for continued recovery of these rare birds and sea turtles.

A key subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives will also begin work on the Interior Appropriations bill this week. This is the same legislation that included more than a dozen attacks on wildlife last year, and it’s likely to have a similar fate this year. We’re particularly concerned about a rider that’s been floated by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) that would prevent anyone from challenging the delisting of wolves in Wyoming. Such a rider would make it virtually impossible for Defenders, our conservation partners, or any citizens to undo a deadly wolf plan in Wyoming that would allow unrestricted wolf killing across the vast majority of the state.

We’ll be keeping a close watch on Congress this week and urging our champs to take a strong stance to make sure vital wildlife protections remain in place. Please take a moment today to contact your members of Congress and tell them to uphold America’s commitment to preserving our natural heritage for future generations.

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5 Responses to “ESA Attacks From All Sides”

  1. Ella DePriest

    If your family were being shot one by one you would expect the police to protect them and you! The wild life you have agreed and signed legation to have “shot on site” or their home territoy taken from them for the business owners or the ranchers YOU need to understand that God placed those animals there for a reason and it was not for your target practice of the rare few who find it in convienent for the animals the mother bear, the Father Wolf, and the four legged female cougar. They are humbling family examples. If one wolf becomes ill another wolf takes care of the pack. How much more like humans can you get? And yet you kill them off after years on the endangered species lists they finally could be reintroduced into their orighional home lands. Where AGAIN the human kills them off. Perhaps the human should move, and make room for Gods origionally placed animal, and it wasn’t the HUMAN! It was the buffalo the bear the wolf the cougar. You squeese them into a small area that is not big enough for them to establish their territories. You seem to want room away from your neighbors what makes you think the wolf the bear and the cougar would be any different. I Pray that God our Heavenly Father will remember what you have done to his namtive people and animals who were first here and lived in harmony with the wolf, the bear and the cougar. Has there been a documented attach on humans by multiple wolfs? ~~ Ella DePriest

  2. kyle

    i think people that kill animals are bafoons they only kill them because they dont understand them.

  3. Scott L.Edwards

    I think people go out in nature to view wildlife and try to inter-act with it as well. As a wildlife control operator here in Florida I tell people all the time do not harass wildlife ,feed wildlife or even enter-act with it. View it from a distance if possible take a picture if you want a memory of it. If provoked or startled they will defend them selves. The live you save will be your own. the fact is if a wild animal is attacked it is hunted down and killed and the person who caused the attack is let off scot free. If we start charing people with a crime for in vading wildlife or getting to close the attacks will drop off.

  4. Irene Graham

    I ask Defenders of Wildlife to set up the letters to our government officials, post them on your website, then all of your viewers who wish to partake, can sign and send them on thru your website. It’s easy and thousands of letters can be sent. Let our voices be heard. Thank you.

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