Center for Biological Diversity
Copyright Center for Biological Diversity

By Christina Tarr

The Endangered Species Act (ESA), passed in 1973, currently protects more than 1,600 species and has likely saved at least 2,223 others from extinction. It has allowed the designation of millions of acres of critical habitat, and it has very strong public support. Read the Center for Biological Diversity’s description of how successful the Act has been.

Five Republican-sponsored bills that would weaken the ESA have recently passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources and are now before the House. They include:

  • H.R. 424, which would remove protections for gray wolf populations in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states;
  • H.R. 717, which allows the Departments of Interior or Commerce to prioritize consideration of petitions to list species other than in the order in which the petitions are received, and does not allow prioritization of species to be listed over species to be delisted. It also gives each department the authority to preclude listing a species if there is the likelihood of significant, cumulative economic effects;  
  • H.R. 1274, which says that Interior or Commerce must use data submitted by a state, tribal, or county government in making determinations of species listed, thus forcing regulators to accept any information even if it doesn’t meet scientific standards of peer review;
  • H.R. 2603 (SAVES Act), which amends the ESA to disallow listing on nonnative species; and
  • H.R. 3131, the Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act, which amends the ESA to replace the current standard for awarding court costs, including attorney fees, in citizen suits with the federal judicial code standard for awarding costs to a prevailing party – thus making it harder for citizens to challenge illegal government actions in court.

What you can do:

Please call your Representative to say that you support the Endangered Species Act and that you oppose these five bills that would weaken it.

Hello, my name is [__________] from [______]. I urge Representative ____ to oppose five dangerous bills that attack the Endangered Species Act, peer-reviewed science, endangered species, and the right of Americans to go to court to defend them: H.R. 424, H.R. 717, H.R. 1274, H.R. 2603, and H.R. 3131.

Among other things, these bills would strip protections for imperiled wolves in Wyoming and the upper Midwest and allow for wolf hunting in those states; cripple enforcement of illegal wildlife trafficking; stymie citizens’ ability to challenge illegal government actions in court; and allow regulators to accept any information that is presented by state, local or tribal governments as science—even if it doesn’t meet scientific standards of peer review.

Learn more:

Christina Tarr is a local librarian with an interest in birds and wild places.

2 thoughts on “Defend Wildlife: Protect the Endangered Species Act

  1. Thank you for me keeping aware of HR bills that would jeopardize the Endangered Species Act. However, I do not understand why Inidivisibles are against HR 2603 the SAVES act. I cannot think of an instant where I would want a non-native species to be considered for endangered status. One instance that I think folks may have issue with this bill is with wild horses, a non-native species which has a very emotional group of supporters. I am of the opinion that wild horses are a destructive species destroying habitat and consuming resources which should be for native species first. Can you please tell me why Indivisibles does not support this is bill? Please educate me.

    1. Dear Lynn,

      The short answer is that HR 2603 removes the provisions of the Endangered Species Act that allow it to compel enforcement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) within the United States. CITES, as implemented in the ESA, is what prohibits the interstate and international sale of many endangered wildlife species within the borders of the United States, species such as elephants, rhinos, tigers, and hundreds of other species of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. Without the enforcement provided by the ESA, these exotic animals cannot be protected within the borders of the U.S.

      Here is a link to an informative op ed from The Hill explaining this in more detail:

      Wild horses would not come under the ESA in any case because they are not an endangered species. (That’s exactly the problem. There are too may of them.)

      Hope this helps!

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