Friday, January 13, 2006

Biologists Letter about ESA

I haven't done an endangered species roundup in a while, for which I'm sorry.

The most important thing to know is that the Endangered Species Act is up for review, and the Senate has the opportunity to either gut this powerful and beneficial law, or to make it stronger.

A group of biologists have drafted a letter to the Senate, and are inviting biologists to sign on. It concludes:
Losing species means losing the potential to solve some of humanity’s most intractable problems, including hunger and disease. The Endangered Species Act is more than just a law - it is the ultimate safety net in our life support system. As Earth has changed and as science has progressed since the Endangered Species Act was authorized in 1973, the ESA has served our nation well, largely because of its flexibility and its solid foundation in science. It is crucial to maintain these fundamental principles. The challenges of effective implementation of the Act should not be interpreted to require substantive rewriting of this valuable, well-functioning piece of legislation.
The letter is open to biologists with or working toward advanced degrees.

If you aren't such a person, write a letter to your Senator and tell him/her that this is important.

The changes being proposed would make it harder to keep a species from going extinct, let alone to bring it back from the brink. There would be new hurdles to clear before beginning the work of protecting a species.

What is really needed is more funding for the people working on the listed species. For most species in the world, let alone endangered species, there is simply too little information to adequately assess what risks the species faces, what habitat the species uses for different stages of its life, etc. Without that information, it's impossible to adequately protect many species, and getting that information requires spending money.

When the process is properly funded, the recovery rate is impressive. When it isn't, species languish.

That's not what Americans want. Making the process more difficult will just let more species drift over the edge. That's not what Americans want either.