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A Primer – Why We Must Not Use a Political Process to Make Scientific Decisions about Endangered Species like Gray Wolves

[large thumbnail url=”a-primer-–-why-we-must-not-use-a-political-process-to-make-scientific-decisions-about-endangered-species-like-gray-wolves” filename=”news” year=”2011″ month=”04″ day=”08″] [thumbnail icon url=”a-primer-–-why-we-must-not-use-a-political-process-to-make-scientific-decisions-about-endangered-species-like-gray-wolves” filename=”news” year=”2011″ month=”04″ day=”08″] posted a nicely written piece which looks to answer all questions regarding the legislative threat to the Endangered Species Act.

How a Species Becomes Delisted Under the Endangered Species Act and Why Legislation is a Hazardous Way to Decide the Fate of Wildlife

The goal of reintroducing an endangered wildlife species is to eventually recover them enough to be delisted, at which point management authority rests with state wildlife agencies. Under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is working towards the eventual delisting of Northern Rockies gray wolves and Great Lakes gray wolves. The process for delisting is based on compiling all the best available scientific research to address and analyze the five listing factors: 1) present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or range 2) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes 3) disease or predation 4) inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, and 5) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.

A wildlife population reaching a specified goal in a recovery plan does NOT mean that the species is magically delisted. The USFWS has to conduct a thorough comprehensive review of all the available scientific research, commercial data, and state management plans to ensure the viability of the species into the future.

This process gives the greatest assurance that wildlife species will be protected until the best available science and a rigorous analysis of threats to its existence indicate that it is safe to delist it as an endangered or threatened species.

The bills introduced in Congress for the delisting of wolves (regardless of whether the bill refers to the Northern Rockies wolves or includes 10(j) classified wolves) deliberately undermines the Endangered Species Act (ESA) process requiring the best and most comprehensive, objective review of science to determine the delisting of a species. If politicians (who are not qualified biologists) can just pass bills that determine the fate of endangered species, any species of wildlife, especially those less charismatic than wolves, are vulnerable to extinction by political whim. People who care about wildlife should fight hard to stop this political hijacking of the ESA.

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