Bald eagles, gray wolves and grizzly bears were removed from the endangered species list in 2007 and are said to no longer need protection. However, not all experts see their removal as a good thing, according to an Oct. 8 press release.
An online article, “History and Evolution of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, including Its Relationship to CITES,” says Congress initially passed the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1966. The legislation allowed listing of only native animal species as endangered and provided limited means for the protection of the species on the list. The law also authorized the acquisition of land for protection of identified endangered species.
The native bald eagle, grizzly bear and gray wolf, familiar to most Americans, were among the first to be listed. The folklore, mythology and national identity involving these marvelous creatures goes back many years. The Endangered Species Coalition (ESC) reports that in the 1960s, bald eagles numbered less then 500 breeding pairs in the lower 48 States and were put on the Endangered Species List in 1978. Since then, America’s national symbol has recovered significantly, and there are now more than 7,000 breeding pairs.
In 2007, it was decided that the bald eagle, grizzly bear and gray wolf had been sufficiently recovered and, therefore, no longer needed federal protection. In terms of conservation alone, this is good news. It means the legislation was successful in the cases of these three species. However, not every expert agrees that de-listing these species is a good idea.
Scott McRobert, Ph.D., is a professor of biology at Saint Joseph’s University and an recognized expert in the ecological, genetic and evolutionary aspects of animal behavior. In the Oct. 8 press release, Dr. McRobert expressed his misgivings: “I don’t necessarily see them coming off the list as a positive thing, or as a testament to the success of these animals across their range. Putting a species on the endangered list takes lots of time and hard work. It requires a great deal of study and petitioning. This is good in the sense that the list is meaningful; otherwise, people would simply place everything on the list, and it would have no real value. On the negative side, species in dire need may have to wait years to get protection. Many animals have gone extinct waiting to receive the protection offered by being listed.”
The ESC applauds the Endangered Species Act as one of America’s strongest and most important conservation laws. But concerns have risen over the government’s plan to prevent the numbers of de-listed species from backsliding. The ESC says that biologists (such as McRobert and others) claim the government’s plan for protecting these species are inadequate.
Bottom line, McRobert and others believe that once a species is on the list, it shouldn’t be removed. Doing so, without adequate plans to keep the numbers from decreasing, basically does nothing more than removes its protection.
Press release, “Gray Wolves, Grizzly Bears and Bald Eagles – Do They Still Need Protection?”; http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/534085/
Article, “History and Evolution of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, including Its Relationship to CITES;” http://www.fws.gov/endangered/esasum.html