Correcting Problems With the ESA

In 1973, the US passed legislation into law that was called the Endangered Species Act or ESA. The purpose of the legislation was to protect the conservation of wildlife species that were in danger of becoming extinct. The ESA triggered money, conservation efforts, land restoration, rules, laws, and regulations for species that were endangered.

The idea was to help the endangered species. If the efforts were successful and the species population recovered, the species was to be removed from the list. This would mean that the money, resources, and efforts could then be directed to a different species on the list.

The problem has been that while it is generally easy to get a species put onto the endangered species list, the government has been very slow at removing animals from the list. Activists often use the ESA to block worthwhile land management programs, too.

For example, the American Bald Eagle was on the list and the population was dropping at the time it was added. Over a decade ago, biologists claimed success and said that the eagle population had recovered. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) recommended removing the American Bald Eagle from the list, which would have freed resources and funding for another endangered animal on the list. Yet, only recently have steps been taken to remove the eagle from the list. For that whole time, money has been squandered for an issue that no longer exists. It is also worth noting that even if the eagles are taken off the list, they are still protected by law and can’t be hunted or killed.

In another example, the grizzly bear population was low, so the animal was put on the list. In 2003, a study done by biologists for the USFW showed that the grizzly bear population had recovered and that the population at Yellowstone was actually quite robust. No action was taken until recently to remove grizzlies from the list, even though biologists have known for 15 years that these bears are no longer endangered. Again, even delisting these animals doesn’t mean that they can be hunted, as that would be tightly regulated if it was allowed at all.

Although this isn’t actually a political issue, some people have claimed that President Trump is arbitrarily removing animals from the endangered species list. Actually, the president can’t do this. The animals that are removed officially are those the ESA states should no longer be on the list. Any revision to the ESA must also be done by the House of Representatives and currently, a bipartisan group of representatives is working to update the ESA.

What do you think about the ESA?

  • Should the Endangered Species Act get an overhaul to bring it back to the original purpose of the act?

    • Yes, it is broken and needs to be fixed
    • It should be abolished altogether. We don’t need the ESA.
    • No, it should be left alone, exactly as it is.
    • I don’t have an opinion about the ESA.
  • Do you object to taking bald eagles and grizzly bears off the endangered species list?

    • No, since they are no longer endangered.
    • Yes, they should remain on the list even if they aren’t endangered anymore.
    • I didn’t know that they couldn’t be hunted even if they were taken off the list.
    • Other
  • I object to spending large amounts of money and resources to save animals that aren’t in danger and that don’t need to be ‘saved’.

    • Yes
    • No
    • Other
  • I am confused by the Endangered Species Act and by how animals are added or removed.

    • True
    • False
    • I honestly don’t care

What do you think?

4 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. This has been an issue that I have considered for several years. There is definitely a down-side to not taking no longer endangered species of the list besides the poor allocation of resourses. If it appears that there are no success stories from the law, people will say “What’s the use of having the law in the first place?”

    The other law that needs o be re-examined is the Migratory Bird Act although this one will be more difficult to change since it involves an agreement with Canada. As it stands now, if you pick up a Canada Goose feather that was laying on the ground in your local park and take it home, you have violated a federal law. (American Indians, and, I assume, Canadian ones, are exempt from this if the feathers are to be used for ritual purposes.

    • If I’m not mistaken, Mexico is also part of the MBA. You are right about indigenous people, though. Whether it is on the ESA or not, Native Americans are also the only people who can legally have an eagle feather. That in itself is ludicrous, and I say that as a Cherokee. ANY Native American can possess an eagle feather, claiming the cultural privilege. Yet, not even half of the tribes used eagle feathers, ceremonial or otherwise.

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