Recovery efforts on target for 90 percent of the species examined
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Like it or not (and some people definitely don’t), the Endangered Species Act does what it’s supposed to do when it’s implemented the way it’s supposed to be, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
The conservation group last week released an analysis of how the ground-breaking environmental law has been effective in recovering at least some species that are threatened or endangered. Read and download the full report at
While some critics will quibble about the species selected for the study, the fact remains that, if habitat is protected, the act can work. Release of the report comes against a backdrop of renewed attacks on the Endangered Species Act, most recently when Congress unilaterally acted to de-list wolves in the Northern Rockies — the first time lawmakers have succeeded in making a political end run around the law.
Additionally, Congress has repeatedly sought to defund the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ability to list and recover species that clearly need protection.
“There are Endangered Species Act success stories in every state in America,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “No other law in the world has done so much to rescue species from the brink of extinction and put them on a path to recovery. Simply put, the act has been remarkably successful.”
On the other side, critics of law often make vague charges that the law “destroys rural American communities,” without ever showing any specific examples, like in this coment on a post in the New Century of Forest Planning blog (scroll down to the comment section).
The review examined population trends of plants and animals protected by the Endangered Species Act in all 50 states, including gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains, Florida panthers, Aleutian Canada geese and California condors. Again and again, the analysis finds species on a positive trajectory toward recovery — and in some cases exceeding expectations.
The study analyzed population data for 110 species from the year each was placed on the endangered species list through 2011. Each species’ actual population trend and trajectory was compared to the timeline for recovery set out in government plans. Nearly all the animals and plants are recovering on time to meet federal goals.
The study’s findings are similar to a 2006 analysis of all federally protected species in the Northeast, which found 93 percent were stabilized or improving since being put on the endangered species list and 82 percent were on pace to meet recovery goals.
The report uses data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and independent scientists, is a science-based rebuttal to attacks on the Act by critics like Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, who claims the Act is “failing badly” because only 1 percent of species have been recovered.
The report finds that 80 percent of species haven’t been listed long enough to reach their projected delisting date: On average, species have been protected for 32 years and have a typical expected recovery period of 46 years.
“Saving species from the brink of extinction — and bringing them back to a point where they’re going to survive into the future — can’t happen overnight,” Suckling said. “Calling the Act a failure at this point is like throwing away a 10-day prescription of antibiotics on the third day and saying they don’t work. It just makes no sense.”
For the full recovery profiles of the 110 species — and an interactive regional map — go to www.ESAsuccess.org.