Little Bird’s question about the black-backed woodpecker reminded me of this opinion piece in Yale 360 by Ted Williams that I had in my to-be-posted pile. I am still wondering how ESA got from protecting endangered species, to requiring that they be recovered everywhere in their historic range. For wide-ranging species it seems like a leap. And it seems like that idea is only applied intermittently; like not to grizzlies in central California.
Here’s the link.
By 2008 the recovery goal for the northern Rockies – 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs in each of the three states (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho) – had been exceeded by at least 300 percent. But there are some environmental groups that want nothing delisted ever. Leading the pack is the Center for Biological Diversity which sues to list or keep listed everything that traversed Noah’s plank, studied or unstudied, then collects attorney fees from taxpayers. Amos Eno, who worked at the service’s Endangered Species Office crafting the amendments that strengthened the act, contends that the federal government could “recover and delist three dozen species” with the resources it spends responding to the center’s litigation.
Under ESA protection, Minnesota wolves colonized Wisconsin and Michigan until, in 2007, the recovery goal for the three-state population had not only been met but had nearly tripled, requiring delisting. But the Center for Biological Diversity and its allies got a court order blocking this needed, mandated action. So the service fought back, again turning up the politics; and in 2011 it succeeded with delisting. By doing so it preserved ESA integrity, credibility, and funding.
Today, thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and no thanks to the perennial plaintiffs, there are an estimated 1,674 wolves in the northern Rockies and 4,432 in the Lake States. That’s the greatest success story in the history of wildlife restoration.