Editorials and Opinion
PD Editorial: No more red herrings in water talks (Press Democrat [CA] , 01/25/15)
"Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t bite on the smelt vs. farmers argument. Last week, the justices rejected an appeal from the Westlands and Metropolitan water districts, among others, seeking to overturn limits on pumping water from the Delta into canals serving Central Valley growers and Southern California cities. Those limits were put in place to protect the smelt as well as several species of salmon .... The pumping limits withstood scrutiny from the National Academy of Sciences and the federal courts, but .... House members from the Central Valley are again sponsoring legislation to waive the Endangered Species Act as it relates to the delta smelt. But the problem isn’t a tiny endangered fish. It’s a lack of water"
EDITORIAL: Fish & Wildlife hire merits watching (The Olympian [WA], 01/22/15)
"Idaho has not taken a progressive view toward the challenges of wolf management, for example – certainly not one that reflects the values of most Washingtonians, nor one that has sought innovative ways of dealing with conflict between ranchers and wolves.... research recently conducted at Washington State University has found that killing wolves to manage the conflict with livestock actually fosters the reverse outcome.,,, We hope Unsworth will embrace a commitment to sustaining healthy populations of all Washington’s creatures. Keeping as many species as possible on the landscape – biodiversity – is critical, and wolves are an important keystone species."
EDITORIAL: Saving the wolves (Toledo Blade [OH], 01/21/15)
"The issue has been at least temporarily resolved by a federal court ruling that wolves remain an endangered species in Michigan, and may not be hunted. But wolves — and the ecology — are endangered on Isle Royale, a 206-square mile national park in Lake Superior. There, a native wolf pack has dwindled, thanks to generations of inbreeding, to no more than nine animals. As a result, the moose population is out of control. Moose are stripping vegetation at an alarming rate and may face mass starvation. Detroit Zoo director Ron Kagan has offered his help in capturing wolf packs from the Upper Peninsula and transporting them to Isle Royale, That would be a win for all concerned. The Legislature should speedily authorize this proposal, for the benefit of both man and beasts."
Editorial: More ups than downs (Houston Chronicle, 01/02/15)
"(up)We're aflutter over the seemingly good news from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which this week announced it will be conducting a status review of the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act. Texas is part of the regal butterfly's flyway when it makes it annual 3,000-mile trek from south central Mexico to Canada. The orange-and-black beauty has been under threat because of habitat loss - the agency's press release indicates the loss of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar's sole food source, has been hit hard - and mortality due to pesticide use. Those wishing to add their voices to the issue have until March 2 to do so."
EDITORIAL: Planet Earth, the half-empty zoo (Chicago Tribune, 01/02/15)
"[I]n the 40 years preceding 2010, the world's population of vertebrate animals — our mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and amphibians — plummeted by 52 percent.... Many people give only so much bandwidth to environmental crises that seem hopeless and out of reach. Yet the extermination of wildlife is neither. ... Each of us can support these efforts even if we can't single-handedly save what remains of the animal kingdom. We can also push our politicians"
EDITORIAL: Written in feathers (Idaho Mountain Express, 01/02/15)
"A rider in the bill, which had absolutely nothing to do with keeping the government running and everything to do with lawmakers paying back influential donors and constituents, prevents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service from issuing rules to place sage grouse on the endangered species list. The agency was facing a court-ordered deadline of September 2015 to decide if the grouse would be placed on the endangered species list. ... What they can do is tell us where our common habitat is headed and perhaps foretell our own future if things don’t change. But the sage grouse can only tell us this if we look closely and listen. This will be helpful only if we act intelligently, boldly and soon to protect what sustains those with feathers and those without."
EDITORIAL: Black bear roars back (News-Star [LA], 12/27/14)
"Officials enrolled Louisiana black bears in the Endangered Species Act program in 1992. When Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham was appointed in 2008, his goal was to save the teddy bear. To the relief of the children and the satisfaction of conservationists, Barham's goal is close at hand....Any decision to remove the black bear from the list should be accompanied by clear guidelines to further encourage the revitalization of the species. we agree with Barham's contention: Restoration of any threatened species should be a priority for his department. Some will argue it should be the top priority.... The recovery of the Louisiana black bear is a Louisiana success story."
EDITORIAL: Don't backtrack on bobcats, Governor (Chicago Tribune, 12/24/14)
"Six months ago, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill that, when it takes effect next Thursday, will enrich every citizen of Illinois: It adds the black bear, gray wolf and cougar to the state's list of protected species. ... Even though a species has rebounded from near extinction, humans shouldn't take that as license to return to the practices that nearly wiped out the animal in the first place."
EDITORIAL: The last-minute ‘cromnibus’ federal spending bill invites too much abuse (Kansas City Star, 12/16/14)
"Lawmakers — primarily Republicans — inserted inappropriate pet causes, pork and pandering to special interests....Policy riders in the bill were even worse. ... Among the other conservative priorities slipped into the bill were ... prohibiting regulations on light bulb efficiency; prohibiting bans of lead ammunition used in hunting; making school lunches less healthy; and forbidding naturalists from classifying two sage-grouse species that are dying off as endangered, an anti-environmentalist move that’s music to the ears of Kansas conservatives. All of those might be reasonable topics for discussion. If so, they should go through the normal, deliberative legislative process that allows ample time for analysis and public comment."
Editorial: Winners and losers: Mike Riley, wolf deaths (Statesman Journal [OR], 12/04/14)
"LOSER: Killing wolves. Research conducted through Washington State University found that wolf kills in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming actually increased the number of sheep and cattle killed by wolves the following year. "The reason appears to be that killing the alpha male or female in a pack frees the other wolves to start breeding. And breeding pairs trying to feed pups are more likely to kill livestock than individual wolves," the Associated Press said, quoting wildlife ecology professor Rob Wielgus. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife paid for the study, which was published in the journal PLOS One."
Editorial: A somber record for the Florida panther (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 12/02/14)
"Drivers needs to be alert in panther territory. But more importantly, public officials should show renewed support for conservation efforts to preserve the state's most endangered symbol. One worthy idea is the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which aims to create a sustainable path for wildlife stretching from the Everglades to Georgia and Alabama .... if people don't support conservation efforts, future generations might be able to see the Florida panther only on the special license plate of a car."
EDITORIAL: Japan Is Back in the Hunt for Whales (New York Times, 11/30/14)
"Claiming purely “scientific” motives, Japan’s political leaders are cynically planning to resume whale hunting in the Southern Ocean, despite the International Court of Justice finding that the Japanese government regularly violated its obligations under the international ban against commercial whaling off Antarctica."
EDITORIAL: Redbelly's future (Hays Daily News [KS], 10/16/14)
"[T]he redbelly snake ... have been listed as threatened under the Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species Act for some time. And the task committee that reviews the state list every five years recently has recommended the redbelly remain "threatened."... Jennison should take a stand on principles. Jennison might find himself dismissed from the governor's cabinet, but the redbelly snake would have a chance of continuing to be protected. ... It appears likely the redbelly snake is going to be thrown under the bus -- or the earth-mover in this case. The primary person entrusted with its survival, Secretary Jennison, should not be the one issuing the death sentence."
Editorial: Snake politics; Political pressure, not science, may decide the fate of a threatened snake species in Kansas. (Lawrence Journal-World [KS], 10/16/14)
"In the 40 years since passage of the Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species Act, the wildlife commission has never overridden a recommendation from its task force that evaluates what species need protection....micromanagement by state legislators would be detrimental to the state, not to mention much of the wildlife that live here.
The future of the redbelly snake in Kansas is important but not as important as the precedent the wildlife commission would set by deciding this issue based not on science, but on the fear of political retribution by the Kansas Legislature."
EDITORIAL: Follow science, not politics (Wichita Eagle [KS] , 10/15/14)
"If the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission follows Secretary Robin Jennison’s recommendation and takes the redbelly snake off the state’s threatened list, it will be avoiding a political fight by discounting science. It also will set a bad precedent for the next time somebody wants to ignore the scientific experts for reasons of cost or convenience. And the next."
EDITORIAL: Our View: Defend federal land ownership at Friday hearing (Idaho Mountain Express, 10/08/14)
"The state takeover is popular with state lawmakers and has persisted since the days of the Sagebrush Rebellion in the 1980s when Westerners with permits to operate on federal lands expressed displeasure ... largely that they couldn’t do as they pleased on land they did not own and that they should be afforded rights greater than those of the landlord—the American public that owns the land. Idaho counties piled on, blaming federal ownership instead of unwise state tax policies that refuse communities local control of taxation for the cost of services to visitors on public lands. They also perversely blamed laws like the Endangered Species Act, which tries to protect the nation’s vanishing wildlife, for damaging the economies of communities located near public lands."
EDITORIAL: Revisiting The Passenger Pigeon (Hartford Courant [CT], 10/07/14)
"The passenger pigeon was once the most plentiful bird in North America. Its enormous flocks darkened the sky. But it was hunted to extinction by people who thought the supply was endless. The death of Martha was an awakening, the first time many people realized that human activity could wipe out an entire species. There is a modern parallel. Last month the National Audubon Society released a report saying that nearly 30 species of birds risk extinction by 2080, and hundreds of other species are at risk of serious range contractions because of global warming. As we should have learned by now, the health of the bird population is a good indicator of the health of the overall environment."
The animals are disappearing: Editorial (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 10/06/14)
"According to an alarming study from the World Wildlife Fund and the London Zoological Society, the populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have fallen by 52 percent in the last 40 years.... Animal are disappearing because we not only kill them in unsustainable numbers, we also destroying their habitats. ... the brown bats are vanishing because of a fungus, which eliminates an invaluable mosquito-removal service. Environmental factors such as rising sea levels and vernal pools made less habitable by road salt are decimating reptile and amphibian populations.
The only good trend of late is President Obama’s decision to create the world’s largest marine preserve,...To stop there would be hubris redefined."
Living With Wolves (LIfe of the Law, 10/04/14)
Jason Albert: "The gray wolf only roams a fraction of its historic range. While it used to inhabit huge parts of the U.S., it’s now confined to just a few states. But last winter, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed taking it off the endangered species list throughout the entire lower 48 states, because in that small area, wolves are thriving. It’s the first step in what could be a radical reinterpretation of the Endangered Species Act, with ramifications far beyond wolf country....focusing on species current, rather than historic, range, means we might be preserving an approximation of nature as it was. ... There are also practical reasons to preserve species in more than a small area."
EDITORIAL: CO2 figures provide more cause for concern (Virginian-Pilot, 10/02/14)
"[S]cientists agree that carbon dioxide levels haven't been this high in eons. ...All that is slowly combining to cause the planet to warm, altering ranges for animal and plant species, changing climate, raising sea levels and increasing the potential for more severe weather. More CO2 has also been absorbed into the world's oceans, where it is acidifying the water and wreaking havoc with plant and animal life....he arc of the change provides cause for alarm. Carbon dioxide concentrations are increasing more quickly now"
EDITORIAL: Mr. Obama’s Pacific Monument (New York Times, 10/02/14)
"President Obama last week, in addition to everything else on his plate, created the largest marine preserve in the world....at a time when the world’s oceans are threatened by rampant pollution, overfishing and climate change, the benefits of Mr. Obama’s decision will be profound,...out there beyond Honolulu, living in splendid isolation, are sharks, rays and jacks; coconut crabs; moosehorn, staghorn and brain corals; humpback and melon-headed whales; green and hawksbill turtles; bottlenose and spinner dolphins; and untold millions of boobies, curlews and plovers. All these, and countless other living things, will be better off."
EDITORIAL: Decline in butterfly species should concern us all (Capital Journal [Pierre, SD], 09/24/14)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed the Dakota skipper as a threatened species. ... The Poweshiek skipperling is proposed as endangered.... This should concern us all. It appears that we may pass on to our children a prairie that is poorer in wildlife than the prairie we inherited from our parents and grandparents. ... Here is where we could probably learn a lesson from the first radical environmentalist, God, and his right-hand man, Noah. If biological diversity was worth protecting in the Genesis account of the great flood, it’s worth protecting now, too. Read the story on A3 and consider filing some comments with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about their proposed plans for these two small citizens of our prairie world."
More talk, more action [Editorial]; Our view: Climate change protesters and policymakers must overcome the 'know-nothing, do-nothing' politics of skeptics (Baltimore Sun, 09/22/14)
"For the record, man-made climate change is undeniable and serious. ... The challenge of climate change is serious, but the remedies are not as painful as opponents often claim. Conserving energy and switching to renewable forms of power yields tremendous benefits not only to the environment but to human health and to energy independence. What's painful is to envision a future if action isn't taken — coastal communities flooded; increasingly severe weather events such as drought and storms; loss of arable farmland and freshwater supplies; increased disease; more political conflicts worldwide as people battle over scarcer resources; and loss of biodiversity and ecosystems."