Prevent Weakening of the Endangered Species Act

Target: President Barack Obama

Goal: Urge the President and his administration to withdraw support for a bill that would effectively weaken the Endangered Species Act.

President Obama and his administration are proposing a policy that would dilute the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed policy would limit the protection of wild animals and plants that need it, and would make it harder for species to qualify for protection under the ESA.

Currently, the ESA defines an endangered species as one “in danger of extinction in all or a significant portion of its range.” In other words, in order to qualify for protection under the ESA, a species does not have to be near extinction in all of its habitats. The proposal would redefine what “significant portion of its range” means, defining it as a vital portion of habitat that, if lost, would threaten the species as a whole.

The policy would only take into account current numbers of a species in its current location—no historic range or history of endangerment would be considered. This means many species that were on the brink of extinction and moved habitats for sheer survival purposes would not be considered “endangered.”

To put this into perspective, “If this policy had been in place when the Endangered Species Act was passed, the bald eagle would never have been protected in any of the lower 48 states, because there were still a lot of eagles up in Alaska,” noted Noah Greenwald, endangered species director of the Center for Biological Diversity. Instead of proactively taking preventative measures to curtail extinction, this proposal would only protect species on the edge of extinction. “The Fish and Wildlife Service has long been criticized for only protecting species on the very brink of extinction, which makes recovery a difficult, uphill slog,” Greenwald stated. “This policy would actually codify that approach.”

Sign below to warn President Obama that this policy is only going to weaken the Endangered Species Act and make recovery for endangered species that much harder.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Obama,

The proposed change to the Endangered Species Act supported by you and your administration will weaken the act, instead of helping to clarify certain definitions.

The act currently defines an endangered species as “in danger of extinction in all or a significant portion of its range.” By redefining what a “significant portion of its range” means, the proposed policy would make it much harder for threatened species to qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, the historic range of the species would not be taken into account when considering protection under the act—only current range and numbers would be considered.

For years the Fish and Wildlife Service has suffered criticism for only acting and protecting species “on the very brink of extinction, which makes recovery a difficult, uphill slog,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director of the Center for Biological Diversity. The proposed policy would “actually codify that approach.”

This proposed change to the Endangered Species Act is not in the best interest of wildlife or the viability of threatened plant and animal species. Please reconsider your advocacy of this policy proposal, and maintain the integrity of the Endangered Species Act.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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Photo credit: Tim Hamilton via Flickr

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  • Alice Rim
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