"Keep the Endangered Species Act Strong"

Hunters, anglers and conservationists oppose rollback in species protections

10-14-2008 // Karla Raettig

WASHINGTON, DC -- A broad coalition of conservation groups today called on the Bush administration to halt efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act. To date, more than 100,000 citizens have come out in opposition of a proposed rule change that would weaken the safety net of habitat protections that have helped protect and recover endangered fish, wildlife and plants for the past 35 years.

"A remarkable number of America's hunters, anglers, conservationists and concerned citizens have joined together to rebuff this sneak attack," said John Kostyack, Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming at the National Wildlife Federation. "It would be unconscionable to move forward with this proposal in the face of such staunch opposition."

The rule change seeks to eliminate the requirement that federal agencies consult with independent scientists. The National Wildlife Federation helped raise the alarm on the rollback after it obtained a leaked copy of the regulations in April. According to comments submitted by the groups:

The proposed changes violate the spirit and the language of the Endangered Species Act by reducing the role of scientific review of projects that may impact endangered fish, wildlife and plants in the following ways: (1) virtually eliminating informal consultations and reducing the number of formal consultations; (2) reducing the scope of consultations; and (3) allowing projects to proceed without scientific review based on an arbitrary deadline imposed on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

"The consultation process is a cornerstone of the Endangered Species Act," said Kostyack. "Allowing federal agencies to forgo this process would put America's treasured plants, fish and wildlife at risk."

Since 1973, the Endangered Species Act has served as America's safety net for wildlife. It has saved hundreds of species from extinction, put hundreds more on the road to recovery and safeguarded the habitats upon which they depend. Without it, the bald eagle, condor, gray wolf, grizzly bear, Florida panther, manatee and hundreds of other species would be extinct today.

"Opponents of the Endangered Species Act keep throwing out attacks at this bedrock conservation law and the American public keeps knocking them down," said Kostyack. "The next administration must work to strengthen and enhance protections for wildlife, not waste time proposing industry-friendly rollbacks like the current administration has."

Today is the final day of the 60-day comment period on the proposed rule change. Eighteen groups filed their joint comments today, including National Wildlife Federation, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Renewable Resources Coalition, Prairie Rivers Network, Conservation Council for Hawai'I, Texas Conservation Alliance, Indiana Wildlife Federation, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Iowa Wildlife Federation, Wagner Conservation Coalition, Izaak Walton League - Johnson County Chapter, Washington Wildlife Federation, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Colorado Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Planning and Conservation League, and the Minnesota Conservation Federation.

The National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

Contact: Karla Raettig, raettigk@nwf.org, 202-797-6869

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