The Endangered Species Act is a very big deal. And while many animals should be able to get on it, it is reserved only for those with the smallest chances of survival. So of course, adding a new species to the list often ends up causing nation-wide debates and arguments.
Naturally, removing a species from the list elicits a similar response, with various groups weighing in, criticizing, starting lawsuits, and practically doing everything in their power to make life miserable for those in charge of making the decision. But it’s not like the people from the Fish and Wildlife Service remove animals from the list just for the sake of it.
No, the people in charge of handling the Endangered Species Act are experts who know what they’re doing… most of the time. Of course, they are still people; so they are capable of making mistakes and they are capable of being bribed, but generally they make their decisions for what they consider to be the good of the animals on the list.
The most recent scandal involves removing grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List, and both parties are making a very good point. And as with most dissenting discussions, it’s unwise to have an opinion before knowing all the facts pertaining to the matter at hand.
In March, the Fish and Wildlife Service declared the recovery of the grizzly bear population in Yellowstone National Park as “one of America’s great conservation successes—a testament to the value of the Endangered Species Act and the strong partnerships it drives”. Since they were declared endangered in 1975, the grizzly bear numbers in Yellowstone grew from 136 to more than 700.
The final decision will be made towards the end of the year, and public comments will be accepted until today, May 10th. In the meanwhile, the two different sides are attempting to talk things out.
The FWS claims that the bear numbers have climbed enough to be removed from the list, as keeping them on it any longer than necessary can undermine the meaning for which it stands. Meanwhile, critics are saying that the numbers have not climbed nearly high enough, and that removing the animals from the list is going to be a death sentence.
Grizzlies were the targets of another attempt to be removed from the list in 2007, but they were kept on it after a court decided in favor of the environmental groups saying that they FWS didn’t take into account the steady decline of the creature’s habitable zones and food sources.
The point about food sources is still valid, however, as grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Park are now forced to eat as many as 40,000 moths a day in order to stay sated, as well as metaphorical tons of whitebark pine cones (which has been declining steadily because of climate change).
Image source: Wikimedia