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Defenders of Wildlife

Editorials and Opinion


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EDITORIAL: Sea life dying from human failures (Virginian-Pilot, 09/29/15)
"According to a study this month by the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London, half of the ocean's vertebrate population has disappeared in just four decades....Whether it's through overfishing, pollution or carbon dioxide emissions that cause the oceans to warm and acidify, humans are harming the planet and its mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The decline has been significant across most species, but it's worse for animals we rely on for food or income.... One in four species of sharks or rays is now under threat of extinction.... Protecting the oceans from exploitation should be part of a worldwide solution .... Reducing pollution and run-off will help take environmental pressure off the oceans' coastal species. So will reducing the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are changing the composition of the oceans themselves. There is undoubtedly time to reverse the oceans' declines, but only if humans have the will."

EDITORIAL Our view: Let the wolves into the wild (Santa Fe New Mexican, 09/28/15)
"Releasing more wolves into the wild is essential in adding genetic diversity to the wild population.... Commissioners’ decisions have made it easier to hunt and kill cougars and bears. They denied a permit to Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch to aid in the federal wolf recovery program by providing pen space — a reversal of 17 years of a program that worked. This clearly is a Game Commission hostile to wild animals. Should the commission not allow the release of additional wolves, we trust that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bosses will use the Endangered Species Act to force New Mexico’s hand. Under federal law, the United States is charged with protecting the endangered wolves and striving to ensure their survival. ... Such short-sightedness on the state level must be fought by aggressive federal action. If the states won’t do the right thing by wolves, the federal government must act, using its authority under the Endangered Species Act."

Editorial: The greater sage grouse and the lesser prairie chicken: let science decide (Los Angeles Times, 09/25/15)
"The chicken is one of several species that lawmakers want to pluck out from under the Endangered Species Act through language inserted into the Interior bill, in effect seeking to dismantle the law one species at a time. It also would take gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes states off the list of threatened species and prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the Sonoran desert tortoise. Even more troubling is a provision that would halt the service's efforts to tighten restrictions on the importation and sale of ivory in the U.S. as part of a global effort to stop the slaughter of African elephants. Meanwhile, another House bill — to reauthorize defense programs — would de-list the American burying beetle .... decisions about their conservation shouldn't be made by members of Congress and corporate interests. Whether a species is so robust that it does not require the protection of the Endangered Species Act must ultimately be a scientific call, not a political one."

Protecting Endangered Species Under the Commerce Clause: People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (American Constitution Society Blog, 09/25/15)
Jason Rylander, Defenders of Wildlife: "Every single court to consider the question – including the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits – has upheld the federal government’s constitutional authority to protect wildlife through the ESA. But last year, District Court Judge Dee Benson of Utah disagreed, and so the Tenth Circuit will weigh in on what had, until now, been settled law. As I argued in an amicus brief for Defenders of Wildlife and five other national conservation groups, the Tenth Circuit should reverse."

Playing Whack-a-Mole with the Endangered Species Act (American Constitution Society Blog, 09/24/15)
Bruce Myers & Jay Austin, Environmental Law Institute: "To date, a wolf, a toad, two fish, a fly, and a collection of “cave bugs” have successfully carried the banner of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) against a series of constitutional challenges. On Monday, the Tenth Circuit will hear oral arguments ... on whether the Act is unconstitutional as applied to the endangered Utah prairie dog. PETPO has implications for nearly every federal environmental law, and for other laws enacted on the basis of Congress’ authority to pass legislation that is necessary and proper for regulating interstate commerce.... From 1997 to 2011, six appellate cases spanning five circuits rejected similar challenges. ... What remains crystal clear, however, is that Congress is owed a great deal of deference when it enacts environmental or other legislation under its commerce power. ... it is difficult to see how any fair measure of deference afforded to Congress would result in anything other than a reversal of the district court’s anomalous decision."

EDITORIAL: Give horseshoe crabs a break -- before they're gone (Newsday [NY], 07/24/15)
"The board has asked the state to ban harvesting the crabs at town beaches and in Setauket Harbor, to address concerns about overfishing. Given insufficient information about their habitat and whether the population is declining or stable, it's a reasonable request. In environmental matters, erring on the side of caution is almost always a good idea. Beyond the wisdom of preserving species whenever we can, horseshoe crabs are important symbolically and in reality."

Editorial: Lack of a wolf plan should have U.S. howling mad (Albuquerque Journal [NM], 06/16/15)
"The public ... deserves to know what that final goal is. According to a 2014 lawsuit against Fish and Wildlife by Defenders of Wildlife [and others] “the absence of a legitimate agency blueprint for Mexican gray wolf recovery underlies the ongoing challenges facing the subspecies’ recovery program. Accordingly, those challenges could be resolved through the production and implementation of a scientifically based and legally valid recovery plan to guide and drive Mexican gray wolf management decisions, such as scheduled releases to promote genetic diversity, necessary limitations on wolf removals by FWS and the public, and delineation of appropriate geographic areas to facilitate wolf recovery.”"

Editorial: Where have all the honeybees gone? (Record Journal [CT], 06/15/15)
"Bees pollinate some 80 percent of plant species, and about a third of our food supply depends on them. Some crops, such as almonds, are completely dependent on bees for pollination. But the honeybees have been disappearing ... current theory is that there may be multiple factors involved, including disease, bacteria, parasites — and pesticides, including synthetic nicotine pesticides called neo-nicotinoids.... it should be a major concern for all of us, because all of us depend on honeybees for our sustenance."

Editorial: Do not take Florida panther off endangered list (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 06/12/15)
"Count this among the most shortsighted ideas to emerge from state wildlife protection bureaucrats in recent memory: They want the Florida panther to be removed from the federal endangered species list. Apparently, 150 to 250 Florida panthers are just too many. This is the wrong move for Florida and for the panthers, and it could reverse decades of work aimed at protecting the animals.... reducing federal regulation is not the answer."

EDITORIAL: Prairie dog vaccine program just might help (Great Falls Tribune [MT], 06/09/15)
"We believe this is a useful project that we hope will help rescue a rare species from the brink of extinction. But this also reveals a larger picture — that driving other species to extinction, whether it be bison, prairie dogs, wolves or other animals, is not in the best interests of most Americans or other world occupants. Even sometimes despised creatures can play a useful role in the ecological landscape. Bats are voracious eaters of insects, even if literature has painted them as scary creatures; bison contributed to the prairie ecosystem, and reintroduction in some locations could help restore part of the Great Plains prairie that is rich in both animal and plant life. We applaud efforts to safeguard the existence of other species on the earth, … We support these steps, and we are confident these efforts, if they succeed, will benefit human beings as well as the animals and plants we help to survive."

EDITORIAL: G.O.P. Assault on Environmental Laws (New York Times, 06/08/15)
"President Obama has announced or will soon propose important protections for clean water, clean air, threatened species and threatened landscapes. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and other Republicans in Congress are trying hard not to let that happen ... the sage grouse initiative is a legitimate executive action aimed at carrying out Congress’s purpose in the 1973 Endangered Species Act, which was to save a species before it disappears."

Editorial Assembly bill on ivory sales is worth approving (Los Angeles Times, 06/07/15)
"[L]egal ivory trade can serve as a cover for illegal trade. AB 96, introduced by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), would tighten the rules by barring the sale of almost all ivory in California. (The bill would also ban the importation and sale of endangered rhinoceros horn.) It passed the Assembly last week with bipartisan support. The Senate should pass it too, and the governor should sign it into law.... It's not likely that the courts will see this law as a violation of the Takings Clause under the 5th Amendment of the Constitution. When California outlawed shark fins, a group sued, arguing that the government had taken away the value of traders' shark fins. The courts ruled otherwise, stating that the government was not in violation of the Constitution when it imposed a complete ban on a product determined to be harmful to the species."

Editorial: Cheers and Jeers (Gainesville Sun [FL], 06/06/15)
"Jeer: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials, for suggesting that the endangered status of the Florida panther may need to be reviewed. Wildlife advocates told a GateHouse Media reporter that the agency is rejecting scientific evidence in claiming that having a panther population near 200 shows the animal is no longer endangered."

Editorial: Population peril (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 06/02/15)
"Population problems of many sorts are outlined in the latest Free Inquiry magazine. Some examples: ... “The rate of plant and animal extinction is about 1,000 times higher than the natural rate . ... Other species ... are going extinct at the highest rate since the extinction that wiped out most dinosaurs 65 million years ago.” • “For most of Earth’s recent history, our atmosphere has contained about 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Today, we are at 400 ppm and climbing, a level that essentially locks in significant climate change ... . The increase of CO2 in the oceans is... the highest it has been in about 20 million years.” • “About 90 percent of the ocean’s population of large fish has been wiped out by overfishing and other human activity.”"

Editorial: Protecting the pollinators (Providence Journal [RI] , 05/28/15)
"Europe has banned three types of the pesticides known as neonicotinoids, widely used on U.S. crops but feared by some researchers to endanger bees. With U.S. environmental groups pushing for their elimination here, the accelerated review of their impact is welcome.... the loss of honeybees and other pollinators may be signaling broad problems with U.S. ecosystems. The more researchers discover now, the better the chance of averting a crisis."

Editorial: Obama’s bee report has a hole in it (Fresno Bee [CA] , 05/27/15)
"Billions of dollars and a third of the nation’s food supply are at stake. So it’s only right that the Obama administration is taking up the plight of the honeybee, a linchpin of our food system. The only thing wrong is that the plan doesn’t go far enough.... the task force stops short of direct recommendations about curbing the use of neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides that’s applied to crops.... At a minimum, we need to speed studies about the pesticides, and either clear them of the collapse, or make hard decisions about their continued use."

PD Editorial: Plan Bee to save the pollinators (Press Democrat [CA] , 05/26/15)
"Farmers and scientists have watched with alarm as honeybee colonies died off in recent years. Bees are pollinators, bringing color to backyard gardens and tending crops that feed the nation — almonds, avocados, apples, peaches, plums, pears, blueberries, strawberries, the list goes on....President Barack Obama offered a plan to expand breeding and feeding grounds for bees and other pollinators, including monarch butterflies, another species suffering sharp declines. Obama also directed the Environmental Protection Agency to re-evaluate the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honeybees. The agency has restricted their use around bee colonies, but, unlike the European Union, it hasn’t enacted a moratorium. ... It’s a cautious, science-based approach that deserves funding to expedite research and public cooperation in maintaining gardens and other spaces where bees and butterflies can thrive. Otherwise, some of our favorite foods may start disappearing from supermarket shelves and kitchen tables."

EDITORIAL: Our Views: Louisiana black bear makes remarkable turn exiting endangered species list (New Orleans Advocate, 05/25/15)
"One of our trademarks, the bear that inspired Teddy bears, is no longer an endangered species, according to federal authorities, although some longtime advocates for conservation dispute the decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service....As few as 100 bears are thought to have been living in the 1950s. We don’t want to go back to that level, but we are reasonably confident that the plans by federal and state authorities will not allow that to happen. This has been in discussion for a long time. Still, it’s good that the Black Bear Conservation Coalition and other environmental groups will keep a close eye on this new development.... Nor could it have happened without private citizens like Harold Schoeffler, whose legal action prompted the settlement that listed the bear as a threatened species in 1991. He’s not entirely happy with regulators now and will doubtless be heard on this new step."

EDITORIAL: The endangered pollinators (Baltimore Sun, 05/22/15)
"It's estimated that every third bite of food a person consumes can be traced to a honey bee, wild bee or other insect pollinator. ... That's why the science-based strategies endorsed recently by President Barack Obama are a good step in the right direction toward restoring the environmental balance. The loss of pollinators requires a focused government response that will not only pinpoint the causes behind the collapse but set the nation on remedial action now while a recovery is still possible. Corrective action involves not just limiting pesticide applications on fields traveled by bees but also planting pollinator-friendly crops and preserving natural habitat."

EDITORIAL: The government’s Plan Bee (Washington Post, 05/21/15)
"A CRUCIAL agricultural workforce in the United States that produces some $15 billion worth of economic value every year, according to the Obama administration, has been struck by alarming losses recently, frightening advocates and demanding attention from Washington. Yes, the country’s bees are in trouble."

EDITORIAL: Our View: Let Ladder Ranch keep helping wolves (Santa Fe New Mexican, 05/18/15)
"For 17 years, Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch in Sierra County has been a place where endangered Mexican gray wolves could find temporary refuge. Now, with a decision by the New Mexico Game and Fish Commission, that refuge is gone. On May 7, commissioners decided to deny a permit that would have continued to allow the ranch to provide pen space to wolves that either were being released into, or temporarily released from, the wild. The governor should reverse the commission’s denial. The re-introduction of the wolf to the wild needs as much support as possible ... Requiring the permits smacks of unnecessary government intrusion on the actions of a private landowner.... helping save the wolf is a much stronger position than helping allow a creature that so many love die out. By green-lighting the permit, Martinez has a chance to become a hero."

EDITORIAL: Bully for the black bear (News-Star [LA], 05/13/15)
"During the 1950s and ‘60s Louisiana black bears were on the brink of disappearing, with fewer than 100 remaining in a shrinking habitat. Officials enrolled Louisiana black bears in the Endangered Species Act program in 1992.... official announcement May 20 in Baton Rouge that the Louisiana black bear will be taken off the endangered list.... Barham can enjoy his sunset days as secretary knowing that he succeeded in his goal to assure Louisiana will continue to be home to the teddy bear. The recovery of the Louisiana black bear is an environmental achievement“ worthy of a hearty, “Bully.”"

Editorial: Game board unfairly takes aim at gray wolf protector  (Albuquerque Journal [NM], 05/12/15)
"Playing tit for tat with an endangered species is not only unproductive; it’s petty. Yet that appears to be what the New Mexico Game Commission did last week when it declined to renew a permit that had been in place for 17 years allowing Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch in the Gila mountains to assist the federal Mexican gray wolf recovery program. Ever since the program began in 1998, the Turner ranch has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide pen space for holding endangered wolves being taken from the wild or being reintroduced into the wilderness.... Landowner rights should not become as endangered as the wolf. Turner should be allowed to use his property as he wishes in cooperation with the federal government, and the commission shouldn’t flex its self-granted power to punish a private landowner to make a statement."

EDITORIAL: Preserving Virginia's 'Treasures' (News & Advance [Lynchburg, VA], 04/30/15)
"There’s much to love about the Old Dominion: its history, its heritage, its natural beauty. But with growth and progress, those natural treasures of the commonwealth come under increased pressure from development. That’s why an initiative Gov. Terry McAuliffe launched last week is so important. “Virginia Treasures” is designed to protect, in perpetuity, ecologically sensitive sites, lands that harbor endangered or threatened species .... The more of these “treasures” we can preserve and protect today, the more of the true Virginia we bequeath future generations."

Editorial: Protect rhinos and elephants (Bend Bulletin [OR], 04/29/15)
"Legislators in Oregon would like to ban sales of rhino horn and ivory in Oregon — similar to what has been done in New York and New Jersey. ... it could help, and the illegal ivory trade has no place in Oregon. Pass the bill."

Editorial: Spring marks the return of the osprey (Eagle-Tribune [MA], 04/21/15)
"One considered endangered, the osprey has made a solid, steady comeback locally. ...It wasn't until the United States outlawed DDT and similar pesticides that the bird began its comeback. Today, the osprey is both a conservation success story and a barometer of the health of the local ecosystem -- an actual canary in the coal mine. They sit at the top of the coastal food chain, so any poisons ingested by fish and other smaller animals eventually end up being part of the osprey diet. A healthy osprey population, therefore, is an indication of a generally healthy coastal ecosystem, which is a boon to humans as well."

EDITORIAL: Restoring delta must be part of tunnels plan (Fresno Bee [CA] , 04/20/15)
"U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the plan would harm water quality and aquatic life, and increase pollution.... a focused, coordinated approach to restore habitat to help endangered and threatened species recover should be part of the governor’s new plan."

EDITORIAL: Brown shouldn’t leave eco goals out of new Delta plan; Set metrics on restoration and start it now (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 04/19/15)
"The Bay Delta Conservation Plan was proposed with two equal goals: to reliably supply Southern Californians and Central Valley farmers with water, and to restore the Delta ecosystem to save endangered species, such as salmon and Delta smelt. ... a focused, coordinated approach to restore habitat to help endangered and threatened species recover should be part of the governor’s new plan.... the governor should specifically define the ecological goals, set measurable objectives for recovery of species, produce a coordinated action plan and strictly monitor its progress."

EDITORIAL: No Exemption For Ivory In Culpable Connecticut (Hartford Courant [CT], 04/19/15)
"Connecticut can make a down payment on the moral debt it owes the elephant by enacting an airtight ban on the sale of ivory."