Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Arizonans fight Bush attack on endangered species

photo by Robin Silver

TUCSON -- Federal wildlife officials were in town this evening at TCC to discuss and hear criticism of the Bush administration's insane and immoral proposal to remove legal protection for the endangered cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl by taking it off the endangered species list.

Despite the fact that there are only around 20 owls known in Arizona, the US Fish & Wildlife Service claims they are not endangered. This unethical proposal is an attempted political favor from Bush officials to big corporate developers. Removal of legal protection would doom the owls in Arizona.

FWS says they need more information, but the agency already has all the information it needs to continue legal protection under the Endangered Species Act. In fact, FWS biologists in Arizona sent high level agency bureaucrats a detailed analysis and justification for continued listing, but Dale Hall, a politically-driven FWS manager rejected it in favor of the de-listing proposal.

Hall, then FWS southwest regional director in Albuquerque, rejected the biologists' report and ordered the de-listing proposal. After Hall's developer-serving favor Bush nominated him to head the agency. The pygmy owl de-listing proposal is just the latest in a nationwide series of reckless GOP attacks on the Endangered Species Act.

The feds want to argue, same as the developers, that it doesn't matter what happens to owls in Arizona because there are also some in Mexico. Pathetic.

We're Americans, and we have a duty to protect what we have in our country, including wildlife, not leave it up to another nation that may or may not care. Habitat in Sonora is being rapidly lost due in significant part to Mexican goverment programs to bulldoze native desert and plant bufflegrass for cattle.

It is unlikely the Bush administration will change its mind about de-listing, but luckily the pygmy owl has many friends in Arizona who will fight for its survival and recovery, including US Rep. Grijalva, the Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson Audubon, Defenders of Wildlife, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, and others. I hope the owls can hold on long enough in Arizona to outlast Bush.

Rep. Grijalva and staff in particular deserve thanks and praise for working hard to protect the Endangered Species Act.

Local conservationists will hold a pygmy-owl rally and letter writing campaign Monday, Sept. 26, 4-6pm, at the Audubon Nature Shop, 300 E. University Blvd. Cool people, snacks and drinks provided. So c'mon out and do something good for pygmy-owls and your Sonoran Desert.

No comments: