Thursday, June 16, 2011

America supports saving species

The first five months of the 112th Congress might leave the unengaged observer with the impression that the streets and sidewalks of America are teaming with a desire to roll back protections for wildlife and their habitat. The Continuing Resolution with its legislative de-listing of N. Rockies gray wolves set the tone for what is rapidly becoming a full scale assault on the Endangered Species Act.

Last week, Senators Inhofe (R-OK) and Cornyn (R-TX) introduced a pair of what would in any other Congress be radical amendments.  In an unusually blatant kowtowing to big money special interests, the pair seeks to exclude the dunes sagebrush lizard and lesser prairie chicken from ever receiving federal ESA protections. This attempt to micromanage ESA isn't based on some science or biological facts known only to them and their staffs, it's pure politics.

Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM) has been even more creative in his demonization of wildlife and the laws that safeguard them. Recently, the Congressman alleged that somehow the protection of the habitat of the endangered desert pupfish was interfering with the ability of U.S. Border Patrol agents' ability to do their job. The Department of Homeland Security quickly responded, saying no such hindrance existed and that "agents are able to effectively detect and apprehend individuals in that area,".  Representative Pearce has also taken aim at protections for Mexican spotted owls, the Mexican wolf, gila trout, bighorn sheep, and the dunes sagebrush lizard.

None of this, however, is what the American public asked for. A recent poll commissioned by the Endangered Species Coalition found broad support for the Act (84%) and a strong preference that decisions about wildlife management and which animals need protection be made by scientists, not politicians (92%).

This is not stopping the efforts in Congress to weaken the Act and the special interest groups funded by Big Oil and others that seek to roll back proven regulatory protections are aggressively pushing for even more attacks. The Safari Club International has been in Washington over the course of several months stalking the halls of Congress advocating for a weakening of the Endangered Species Act.  Among the "experts" in town representing the Safari Club, were former NBA star Karl Malone, who "loves shooting rare wild animals for sport", and was a vocal advocate against protections for endangered wolves.

Next week, we'll answer them. The ESC and other conservation groups will be bringing farmers, business leaders, scientists, ranchers and even a retired Marine Corps Major General to Washington to educate lawmakers about the importance of the Endangered Species Act.

Bringing respected members of these communities to speak to elected officials about the economic and societal benefits of saving species is one of the most effective ways of educating Members of Congress and the time to do so has never been more pressing.

But, we need your help to make this happen. Please make an emergency contribution today to help us bring these voices to Washington. Your support is 100% tax-deductible, 100% secure and 100% necessary to save the Endangered Species Act.

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