Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe
Goal: Ensure federal protection for a rare bird threatened by human activity
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently sought another delay in Endangered Species Act protection for the imperiled Gunnison sage grouse. The species is one of the most critically endangered birds in the United States, but political pressure from oil and gas and other industries has influenced the agency’s decision to delay offering protection. The latest delay is intended to allow additional time to issue a less-protective listing rule for the bird. Let FWS Director Dan Ashe know that you expect more from the agency and urge him to oversee a swift resolution to the listing process.
The FWS has acknowledged for over 14 years that the Gunnison sage grouse is in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act, but did not begin the listing process until after it entered into a pair of settlement agreements with the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians in 2011. Under these agreements, the FWS proposed protection for the species as endangered in January 2013, but the birds are still waiting to receive help.
While the Gunnison sage grouse’s historic range included parts of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, the birds now consist of just seven small populations in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. Only about 4,000 breeding individuals remain. Most of the current Gunnison sage grouse populations are at imminent risk of being lost forever. Human activity, including oil and gas drilling, motorized recreation, livestock grazing, and urbanization, have contributed to a steady population decline. Federal protection may result in restrictions on hundreds of thousands of acres where the birds live, and Colorado officials have threatened to sue the Interior Department if the bird is listed as endangered.
Let Director Ashe know that these rare birds have waited long enough for the protection they deserve and need. Urge him to oversee a swift resolution to help this species avoid extinction.
Dear Director Ashe,
I was incredibly disappointed to hear of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s latest delay to ensure Endangered Species Act protection for the Gunnison sage grouse, and I urge you to expedite the listing process for this critically imperiled species.
For more than 14 years the FWS has acknowledged that these birds are in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act, yet has failed to take appropriate measures to save this rare species. It is apparent that the oil and gas industries, among others, carry more weight with the agency than the wildlife it is supposed to protect.
I urge you to stop delaying the listing and provide these endangered creatures the protection they deserve. Fourteen years is simply too long and a swift resolution is needed to save the Gunnison sage grouse from extinction.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Department of Interior via Wikimedia Commons