Trump Administration’s Changes to The Endangered Species Act Risks Pushing More Species To Extinction

Coastal brown bear, or Grizzly Bear, nursing cubs. South Central Alaska.

The U.S. federal law that once saved the bald eagle from extinction is facing a new set of rollbacks by the Trump Administration, worrying conservation scientists about the future of at-risk species.

Signed into law in 1973 by President Richard Nixon, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is credited with saving America’s national animal — as well as the California condor, grizzly bear, northern gray wolf, and more. Today it protects more than 1,600 plant and animal species and 99% of the species placed on the endangered list have not gone extinct, says Jeremy Bruskotter, a professor at the School of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State University.

Though roll backs to ESA implementations have been taking place since the act was established, on Monday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced changes that could jeopardize already at-risk species — the government will now consider economic factors before categorizing a species as endangered or threatened. Experts say this is ridiculous. “Recovering species is a biological question, not an economic question,” says Leah Gerber, professor of conservation science and founding director of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes at Arizona State University.

In another change, species categorized as “threatened” — just a category away from being listed as “endangered” — will no longer receive the same protections as species in the “endangered” category. Protections will instead be established on a case-by-case basis.

The Trump administration also announced it would define risks to species in the foreseeable future case-by-case, loosing the definition of “foreseeable future,” another change that worries conservation scientists like Gerber and Thomas Lovejoy, Senior Fellow of Biodiversity and Environmental Science at the United Nations Foundation, who say this is a way for …read more

Source:: Time – Science


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