Endangered Species Act: Flawed Law - Few
species saved; millions spent, thousands of jobs
T. R. Mader, Reseach Director
Abundant Wildlife Society of North America
We believe care and concern for the
environment and our wildlife is important. Due
to that importance, the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
was passed into law with the best of intentions
- to save endangered species of animals and
plants from extinction.
Unfortunately, it's had little success.
However, the ESA has become a most effective
tool in the hands of the preservationist and
those intent on destroying the livelihoods of
millions of Americans.
DID YOU KNOW:
- the desert tortoise is listed on the (ESA)
when there are an estimated 3 million
tortoises in the desert and another 100,000 in
An environmental group immediately sued the BLM. The BLM settled out of court and agreed
to kill only 56 ravens providing it could be
shown that the ravens killed were
"habitually preying on tortoises."
- government reports stated the decline of
the desert tortoise was due to raven
predation? They stated, "Raven predation will
be to the extirpation [total extermination] of
the tortoise population." The Bureau of Land
Management (BLM) decided to kill 1500 ravens.
- a pond weed, which was found on private
land in Texas, was petitioned for listing on
the ESA without the knowledge of the land
owner. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
workers simply trespassed to conduct their
- a snail prevented a retired veteran in
Kanab, Utah from building a recreational
vehicle park and tourist site on his own
property? The FWS alleged an endangered snail
(kanab amber snail) was found on his property.
An "emergency" listing of the snail was
obtained. The veteran was told he could not
use his property and has no option but to sell
it to the government.
- shrimpers in the gulf coast states of
Texas and Louisiana are being harassed by the
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) over
a non-native sea turtle? Yes, that's right,
the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle does not nest in
the United States, but in Mexico. Government
biologists bring the eggs to the U.S., hatch
them in Texas and release them in the Gulf of
Mexico. The NMFS has conducted over 1,100
indiscriminate searches of shrimper's boats
under the guise of turtle protection. Not one
turtle has been found on these boats. Fines
for not having a Turtle Excluding Device (TED)
range from $8000 to $25,000.
- a $240 million ($240,000,000) dollar world
class telescope was stopped by a small
squirrel? The University of Arizona wanted to
build this observatory on Mount Graham in
southeastern Arizona, but the Mount Graham red
squirrel (genetically a common red squirrel)
is listed as endangered on the ESA. It was
claimed that if the telescope was built, the
squirrel would become fixated with human
activity, forget to collect nuts and fall prey
to the goshawk.
- the sockeye salmon is listed as endangered
on the Colombia, Snake and Salmon Rivers? This
ESA listing affects 900 miles of rivers
systems. This recovery program will cost
between $200 million and $1 billion dollars in
the next five years - a price to be paid by
electricity ratepayers, farmers, river
operators and commercial fishermen.
- the Clarkea Australia, a small one to two
inch high plant, has shut down logging in
parts of California? It's not because the
plant is in the logging areas per se, but
because the jobs were located in areas where
the Forest Service said there "might" be
Clarkea Australia. Mind you, this tenacious
little plant will grow in skidder tracks, but
that doesn't matter.
- The USFWS spent over $102 million in
fiscal year 1990 on threatened and endangered
species? The 10 species with the highest
reported expenditures were: northern spotted
owl ($9.7 million); least bell's vireo [small,
green bird similar to the warbler] ($9.2
million);grizzly bear ($5.9 million); red
cockaded woodpecker ($5.2 million); Florida
panther ($4.1 million); Mojave desert tortoise
($4.1 million); bald eagle ($3.5 million);
ocelot ($3 million); jaguarundi [slender,
short-legged wildcat] ($2.9 million); American
Peregrine falcon (2.9 million). The highest
costing bug was the valley elderberry longhorn
beetle ($952,000) and the highest plant was
the northern wild monkshood ($226,000). Note:
These figures are not the total cost, only
what can be itemized by species.
- the snail darter, which was used to hold
up construction of Tennessee Valley
Authority's (TVA) Tellico Dam, was known to
exist in other areas and yet the FWS listed it
on the ESA, claiming it was nearly extinct?
- four trash fish in Colorado - the
squawfish, two types of Chub and a sucker,
which, until a few years ago were poisoned by
the USFWS, are now listed on the ESA? Their
recovery is estimated to cost $60 million
dollars and impacts costs are over
$650,000,000. Meanwhile, in the state of
Washington, anglers are paid $3 by the USFWS
for every squawfish caught that measures over
- two California condors were released in
January 1992? What did recovery cost? Nearly
30 years preparation and $25 million dollars!
- a Texas man killed an endangered whooping
crane and was imprisoned for six months and
fined over $200,000?
- a Maryland couple could not prevent
erosion to their home, which was built on a 60
foot cliff overlooking Chesapeake Bay, because
it might harm a bug? That's right - the
Puritan Tiger Beetle to be exact. An official
from the Maryland Natural Heritage Program
stated that protecting bug habitat was more
important than protecting the couple's home. A
letter to the governor changed nothing, the
beetle's rights came first!
- a $100,000,000 golf course and resort
complex was stopped by a butterfly - the
Oregon silverspot butterfly? A man sought to
turn a fenced cow pasture and an area strewn
with beer cans and vehicle tracks on the
Oregon coast into a world class golf course.
To help save the butterfly, he met with USFWS
personnel and even hired a butterfly expert.
To no avail. Construction could not be done
unless the man could guarantee he could build
the golf course without killing a single
endangered silverspot butterfly.
- the USFWS wants to save hybrid animals?
Examples are the dusky seaside sparrow. When
efforts (costing millions of dollars) failed
to save the sparrow, a hybrid program was
tried. It failed. The red wolf (a hybrid cross
between the grey wolf and coyote) is another
- government officials designated 6.9
million acres of forest in the Pacific
Northwest to be set aside for the spotted owl?
(Nine million acres larger than the states of
Massachusetts and Rhode Island combined.) The
government's estimate of job loss is 33,000
jobs. Private sources say 60,000 jobs is more
accurate. Additionally, landowners of some
three million acres in the Pacific Northwest
were told they could not harvest timber on
their own land due to the presence of the
northern spotted owl, even though seven
million acres of wilderness already exists for
- an elderly couple in Georgia, needing
money for medical expenses, sought to sell
timber on their private land only to be
stopped by a bird, the red cockaded
woodpecker? No, the bird doesn't live on their
land, but FWS and Georgia Forestry Commission
officials reportedly found 17 trees with
"possible" abandoned red cockaded woodpecker
nests. Nobody, including the FWS, has ever
seen this woodpecker on the property. And the
family has lived there for 80 years.
Nonetheless, a temporary ban on timber harvest
- the Colombia white-tailed deer has been
listed as endangered for years and millions
have been spent on its recovery? Studies
reveal that the deer is "genetically a plain
jane whitetail deer."
- the difference between the California
spotted owl and northern spotted owl? Neither
do we! Both are genetically the same bird, yet
the northern spotted owl is listed as
- in spite of the best intentions and
million upon millions of dollars spent, the
Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a dismal
failure, in terms of species recovery?
- that of the 600 species listed on the ESA,
over half are listed in the eastern half of
the U.S.? What does the future hold for the
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been
1) Lock up vast areas of land from commodity
use, i.e. the northern spotted owl used to shut
down timber harvest in the Pacific Northwest.
2) Deprive an individual of their
constitutional right of protection of private
property, i.e. threat of $100,000 fine and
mandatory prison sentence for killing an
endangered wolf killing ones' livestock.
3) Deprive one of their property without just
compensation, i.e. restriction on use and/or
acquisition of land as critical habitat for
The following changes, in order to bring
balance and to put the human factor back into
the ESA, are necessary:
1. Use only a biological and numerical
definition of endangered species.
Biological Definition: Only pure species can
be listed. No listing based solely upon
sub-species, distinct populations or
Problem Example: In 1944, Stanley Young and
Edward Goldman listed 24 sub-species of the gray
wolf. Today biologists feel there are no more
than 5 sub-species of the gray wolf. Even these
5 sub-species should be viewed with caution as
the biologists cannot tell them apart. The same
can be said of the northern spotted owl and
California spotted owl.
Numerical Definition: Only those species
actually threatened with extinction (very few
animals) can be listed.
Problem Example: The gray wolf population of
North America numbers between 40,000 and 60,000
wolves. Due to national boundaries and "distinct
populations" listings, wolves in Alaska and
Canada are not considered in wolf population
counts. Thus, the wolf, while in no danger of
extinction, is "endangered" throughout the
continental U.S., with the exception of
Minnesota where it is listed as threatened. The
same problem exists with bald eagles and grizzly
bears (note: there are
over 40,000 grizzlies in North America).
2. The socio-economic impacts of a listing
must be considered. The current law makes no
Problem Example: Land values in an area of
Texas fell an estimated $300 million dollars due
to an ESA listing of a songbird - the
Also, the impacts of spotted owl listing on
the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest.
The Wall Street Journal reported a 25% cost
increase in wood products which was directly
related to the listing of the spotted owl. Thus,
the nation, not just loggers, are impacted by
the ESA listing of the spotted owl.
3. There must be just compensation on any
taking of private property. The constitutional
rights of citizens must be protected.
4. Individuals must have the right to protect
their livelihoods and control endangered species
threatening their livelihoods.
Problem Example: Endangered wolves, grizzly
bears or eagles killing livestock cannot be
killed by the owner of the livestock. A federal
judge has ruled that a person does not have the
constitutional right to
protect their property from an endangered
species. In 1990, over 7,500 sheep and lambs
were killed by eagles in the states of Wyoming,
Montana and Colorado alone.
5. The ESA must recognize that extinction is
a normal part of the natural evolutionary
process. The fossil record makes this abundantly
clear. Failure to recognize this phenomena will
result in wasting
expertise and money on recovery programs
doomed to failure by this natural process while
people lose their jobs and go hungry.
6. Time and Expenditure limits must be placed
on studies and recovery plans. The American
taxpayer is entitled to fiscal responsibility of
government agencies directed to saving
Problem Example: In 1990, figures released on
the Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge in New
Mexico revealed that the whooping crane recovery
had more than one million ($1,000,000) in each
7. Accountability must be required of
government agencies charged with saving
endangered species. This is in two areas: 1)
Standards must be set for best scientific and
commercial data. 2) Agency personnel must work
with the average citizen and not against them.
Prepared by: T. R. Mader, Reseach Director
Abundant Wildlife Society of North America
WE NEED YOUR HELP! The Endangered Species Act
(ESA) is up for reauthorization. Help spread the
word! Photocopy this information and give it to
your national and state legislators, friends,
students, teachers, media people, game
biologists, and others. Write articles and
letters to the editor and expose the problems
with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the
need for change.
Is the ESA impacting your area? Write us with
the information and we'll get the word out for
you. ABUNDANT WILDLIFE SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA
will do it with your help.
ABUNDANT WILDLIFE SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA is
a unique and distinctly
different wildlife organization. ABUNDANT
WILDLIFE SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA advocates
Conservation - the management of wildlife by man
instead of Environmentalism - the cyclic
"balance of nature" also know as feast and
JOIN US TODAY! HELP BRING A POSITIVE CHANGE
FOR MAN, ANIMAL AND THE ENVIRONMENT!
For more information, contact:
Abundant Wildlife Society of North America
PO Box 2
Beresford, SD 57004
(605) 751 - 0979