US House Republicans’ bills would gut Endangered Species Act

Elephants such as these, as well as tigers, mountain gorillas, cheetahs and more than six hundred other plants and animals would be denied crucial legal defenses they need to stay alive if the ESA is gutted by Congressional bills.Congress is gearing up for an all-out assault on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), our country’s most effective wildlife law. Some of the first shots were fired Wednesday, when a package of five new bills were brought before the House Committee on Natural Resources – each of them taking aim at a different part of the ESA, with the unified goal of weakening the law’s foundation and making future attacks that much easier. 

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who has spent his career advocating for the government to quit protecting the planet, joined the fray with a sweeping—and terrifying—bill to strip ESA safeguards from foreign species.

A victory for Rep. Gohmert would mean that elephants, tigers, mountain gorillas, cheetahs and more than six hundred other plants and animals would be denied crucial legal defenses they need to stay alive. It would mean that important recent victories in the fight against wildlife trafficking (such as the END Wildlife Trafficking Act and perhaps even the successful and popular US ivory ban) could be thrown in the garbage bin and give trophy hunters open season on importing their trophies from hunts of the rarest of rare species.

Even the title of Gohmert’s legislation – the “Saving America’s Endangered Species Act” (H.R. 2603) – is enough to make George Orwell blush. No species, American or otherwise, would benefit from this awful bill.

Jeff Corwin, wildlife biologist, television host and the lone scientist on the list of witnesses for the Congressional hearing, spoke about his own experiences helping to save endangered animals. He urged the committee to recognize the ESA's powerful place in our national narrative. “We are lucky to walk out each day and experience the natural splendor that is uniquely ours as Americans,” he said.

Congress’ death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach is apparent in the rest of the package considered during Wednesday’s hearing:

  • H.R. 424: The Gray Wolf State Management Act of 2017 (which wildlife advocates have termed the “War on Wolves Act”) trashes safeguards for gray wolves in the Great Lakes region and Wyoming;
  • H.R. 3131: The Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act undermines citizens’ ability to challenge harmful wildlife management programs in court;
  • H.R. 1274: The State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act would allow the government to substitute junk science for the real thing when deciding whether to protect species; and
  • H.R. 717: The Listing Reform Act makes a mockery of the ESA listing process by scrapping agency deadlines and allowing economics to trump science.

Today’s hearing was an alarming salvo in the battle over the Endangered Species Act, but much more trouble looms on the horizon and we need your help to fight back and protect this landmark law.


Post a comment


Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Jimmiel Mandima at IFAW
Deputy Vice President of Conservation
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime