Opposition to the Bush Administration’s “reinterpretation” of the Endangered Species Act builds, as more than three dozen scientists join the five senators in protest.
Dozens of scientists have now joined the crusade to prevent the Bush Administration from enacting its “revisions” to the ESA, claiming that it jeopardizes animal species such as grizzly bears and wolves.
One of the changes that are causing the most uproar is the one that affects the way the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers the endangered species program. These changes entail that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would only protect plants and animal that are basically fighting to survive. The department would not have to restore species to areas where they have disappeared.
A letter opposing the revisions was circulated by an environmental ethicist at Michigan State University named Michael Nelson, and Michigan Tech University, wildlife biologist John Vucetich. The letter was in turn signed by thirty eight well known environmental ethics specialists and wildlife biologists.
Some prominent members of the opposition include:
Kathleen Dean Moore of Oregon State University;
Gary Meffe of the University of Florida, who is editor of the journal Conservation Biology;
E.O. Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist of Harvard University;
Craig Moritz, who is director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, at the University of California at Berkeley;
Kathleen Dean Moore, an ethicist at Oregon State University;
And lastly, ethicist Baird Callicott of the University of North Texas.
The scientists state in the letter that the changes “would have allowed the bald eagle to become extinct in the lower 48 states and the gray whale to die out in U.S. waters.” They also believe that revisions to the Endangered Species Act would greatly threaten jaguars, wolves, and grizzlies, because these species would no longer be as wildly distributed as they have been. The scientists also suggest in the letter, that the reinterpretation of the ESA "will have real and profoundly detrimental impacts on the conservation of many species and the habitat upon which they depend."
As the scientists join the politicians in taking a stand against the Bush Administration’s attempted manipulation of the Endangered Species Act, momentum is building. The tide is turning against Bush, and perhaps a grass roots effort should be made to enlist the general public in this fight to protect the country's most precious natural resource; its wildlife.