Monday, July 23, 2007

The Endangered Species Act of 1973

I've noticed recently that news about the Endangered Species Act has been popping up in my news feeds. Most notable was the removal of our national bird the Bald Eagle from the endangered species list. The Bald Eagle was close to extinction in 1963 with only 417 documented birds, compared to the 10,000 that are counted today. The Bald Eagle was one of the most publicized and best funded on the endangered species list and is now the success story of the act that was signed into existence in 1973.

But what about other species that are nearing extinction? What kind of attention are they receiving and will we be hearing similar success stories in the future? The answer is most likely no if things continue as they are in the current Bush administration. The current administration has put fewer species on the list than any other administration since 1973. According to a article from Reuters a mere 57 species have been listed since 2001 compared to the 512 species listed during the Clinton administration and 234 species listed during the four year term of our current president's father. They have also removed 15 species from the list.

There is now a waiting list of 279 species waiting for recognition by the Endangered Species Act. At least two species have met their demise during the Bush administration, a rare plant known as the Hawaiian Haha and a fish native to Washington state known as the Lask Sammamish Kokonee according to a report by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The problem doesn't seem to just rest on the head of the Bush Administration. I have read reports about fighting within the ranks of the endangered species staff, as well as problems with litigation from environmental groups including the Center for Biological Diversity. It seems to me there some people just can't manage to get along even for the sake of our nation's endangered species.

It's not all bad news however, even with species waiting to be put on the list, others who have already been identified are starting to thrive. Today the El Segundo blue butterfly is back from the brink of extinction and residing along bluffs on Redondo Beach near Los Angeles. As early as last month these butterflies were only in existence in special preserves, but now are in plain sight for surfers and beach goers to observe. Good news for the butterflies I suppose, bad news for the Haha and Lask Sammamish Kokonee.

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