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Endangered species: 129 scientists ask Feds to shape up on species protection

By Gary Bogue
Friday, December 11th, 2009 at 7:06 am in Endangered species.

129 prominent scientists from around the country sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday, asking him to trash a Bush-era policy that limits the scope of the Endangered Species Act.

The policy lets the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ignore historic range when deciding whether species require protection — thus, if a plant or animal is completely extinct in many areas but doing OK in one, it doesn’t have to be deemed endangered at all. Actually, it seems to me like it should be the reverse — if a plant or animal goes extinct in any area, it should be deemed endangered. It’s like the canary in the coal mine. We need to rescue it while we can still do something about it.

California Condor over the Grand Canyon. Photo by Flickr user IvyMike used under a Creative Commons License
calcondor IvyMike

Present policy also limits a protected species’ safeguards to the area it currently exists, completely denying that species the opportunity to expand back into its healthy historic range.

If this policy had been in place when the California condor was extinct in the wild, the magnificent bird would have only been protected in zoos.

Disappointingly, Salazar has thus far embraced the Bush policy despite its clear intent to limit the protection and recovery of endangered species. Will he listen to country’s top scientists?

The jury is still out, but his mixed record recently prompted the UK’s Telegraph to ask, “Is Barack Obama deaf to the call of the wild?” You can read it at http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/center/articles/2009/telegraph-12-04-2009.html

What do you think about all this? /Gary

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