Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Excellent News for Endangered Species! Extinction Rider Defeated in House

The U.S. House of Representatives today averted what would have been the greatest threat to the Endangered Species Act in recent history.

An amendment  to the House Interior Appropriations bill (HR 2584) introduced by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) and co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) struck a radical provision that would have pushed hundreds of species closer to extinction. 

The now relegated proposal, dubbed the Extinction Rider, would have slashed protections for wildlife and debilitated the statutory power of the Endangered Species Act by standing in the way of protections for species and their habitat. 

Species including Pacific Walruses, Wolverines, and Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout would have been denied needed protections under the Act.

The Dicks-Fitzpatrick-Thompson-Hanabusa Amendment passed the full House 224-202 marking an enormous win for wildlife against entrenched big money special interests. Thank you to everyone who took action by contacting their Representative opposing the Extinction Rider!

Visit our website to find out if your Representative voted for the Extinction Rider and send them an email thanking them, or asking them to do better next time.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

House Spending Bill Could Cripple Endangered Species Protections

The summer of 2011 is turning into a prolonged, multifrontal assault on America's imperiled species and the Endangered Species Act.  

Recently, we wrote about a plan by the State of Wyoming to allow for unlicensed and virtually unlimited hunting of wolves.  Less than a week after that news broke, the House Appropriations Committee gave the thumbs up to an Interior Appropriations Bill that would not only grant that disastrous plan exemption from judicial review but would effectively cripple the Endangered Species Act.

Under the proposed bill, de-listings of gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes States and Wyoming would be conducted completely outside the watchful eye of the courts. This end-run around the democratic process would enable states and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to craft potentially flawed policy without recourse, undercutting our nation's system of checks and balances.

Another legislative proposal, or "rider", would bar the FWS from adding any new species to the Endangered Species List or granting critical habitat protections to species already protected under the Act. The so-called "Extinction Rider" would also prevent FWS from upgrading the status of struggling species from threatened to endangered. This proposal would preclude FWS from addressing the backlog of more than 260 species it's already determined warrant protections but are in the gray area of "candidate species" designation for lack of resources. Wolverines, Pacific Walrus and Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout would all slip closer to extinction under this plan.

Still more riders would effectively eliminate the ability of the Endangered Species Act to protect imperiled species from poisons such as pesticides and eliminate nearly all protections for the fewer than 8,000 bighorn sheep left in the United States.

Taken together, these riders constitute the most sweeping attempt to debilitate the Endangered Species Act in recent history. 

Representatives Norm Dicks (D-WA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) have introduced an amendment to the bill to strike the "Extinction Rider". Please contact your Member of Congress today and urge that they vote in favor of the Dicks-Thompson Amendment to defend the Endangered Species Act.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Salazar Agrees to Shoot-On-Sight Wolf Plan

Last week, the new director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Wyoming's governor held a press conference to announce that they'd agreed in principle to a deal to remove federal protections for wolves in the state.  

While the plan has yet to be formally approved, the tentative endorsement by Secretary Salazar is ominous news for Wyoming's estimated 343 wolves.  If approved, it would treat wolves as a nuisance species--allowing them to be shot on sight across most of the state.  No license would be necessary and there would be no protections for pregnant or nursing wolves or their cubs.
CC photo courtesy Brian Scott
Inexplicably, the plan is by all accounts identical to those previously proposed by Wyoming which were--until now--found to be insufficient by the USFWS.  

In apparent recognition of the likely tenuous legal foundation of the plan, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead is urging the U.S. Congress to do an end-run around the democratic process and prevent judicial review of this plan.

This is no way to create policy and it's no way to manage wolves.

Please take action for Wyoming's wolves today. Urge Secretary Salazar to uphold the spirit of the Endangered Species Act, the will of the courts and his own FWS by forcing Wyoming to come up with a responsible, science-based management plan.