No animal left behind
There is a laundry list of animals and plants seeking protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and it has become increasingly evident that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service cannot process the petitions fast enough.
With Congress back in session, the economy is once again taking center stage. As the country works to find its footing amid rising unemployment and an unstable financial system, there will be little opportunity for policy discussions outside of those arenas - especially when it comes to conservation.
As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote,
“We’re Rich! (In Nature.) It doesn’t count in our net worth, but its value is incalculable: our national parks, national forests and other public lands…America’s most valuable assets aren’t controlled by hedge funds; they’re shared by us all. Gaps between rich and poor have been growing, but our national lands are a rare space of utter democracy: the poorest citizen gets resplendent views that even a billionaire is not allowed to buy.”
Inhabiting these lands are majestic species that are our responsibility to protect.
Unfortunately, the policies we have in place to protect these animals and their habitats are badly in need of protection themselves.
There is a laundry list of animals and plants seeking protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and it has become increasingly evident that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service cannot process the petitions fast enough. The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) hasn’t been updated in 30 years to reflect appropriate modern-day fines and practices.
Albeit not without flaws, right now, these vital pieces of legislation are the best safeguards we have in the U.S. to protect wildlife from an ever-expanding list of threats.
But instead of looking for ways to improve these laws and make them more effective, many members of the 112th Congress are calling for landmark pieces of conservation legislation to be defunded or gutted, or in some cases they are already introducing laws to circumvent these important protections – such as a bill introduced by Representative Don Young from Alaska allowing over 40 trophy hunters to by-pass the ESA and MMPA and bring back their sport-hunted polar bear carcasses despite the fact that the hunters killed a species threatened with extinction.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare is doing all we can to ensure that animals of all kinds receive the protection they deserve.
Now is not the time to leave these animals behind. Without additional appropriations and new policies, we must at least make sure the ones we have in place are not compromised. The animals and the places they inhabit depend on it.