Tuesday, February 19, 2013

255 orgs want Pres. Obama to strengthen wildlife protections

US groups representing millions of Americans call on Obama administration to strengthen Endangered Species Act protections for rare and vanishing wildlife across country

TUCSON — Citing diminishing Endangered Species Act protections for some of the nation’s rarest plants and animals, a coalition of 255 groups, representing millions of Americans, sent a letter to the secretaries of Interior and Commerce today calling for increased preservation of critical habitat and the reversal of current proposals likely to undermine the ongoing conservation of wide-ranging species like grizzly bears and gray wolves.

“For 40 years the Endangered Species Act has been wildly successful at saving and recovering species under its protection,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But to meet the complex challenges of climate change and an ever-growing human footprint, the Obama administration needs to step up and reverse the tide of recent policy changes that are weakening, instead of strengthening, some of our most effective Endangered Species Act protections.”

The letter, from conservation, recreation, employee, animal welfare, religious, business and women’s groups, asks the administration to withdraw a proposed policy that would sharply limit the number of species that qualify for protection under the Act; to strengthen protections for critical habitat; to keep better track of permitted harm to endangered species; and to find better ways to incentivize endangered species conservation by private landowners.

“The Endangered Species Act works to protect America’s rare wildlife,” said Daniel Patterson, ecologist and southwest director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “But the act must not be weakened. It can and should be strengthened to better and faster serve our national commitment to wildlife conservation.”

Such policy changes would allow species to be protected when they are endangered in “significant portions of [their] range,” ensure that species and habitats are not lost through death by a thousand cuts, and increase landowner participation in wildlife conservation.

“The Endangered Species Act is a sound law that is recovering hundreds of species,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “But with more species needing its full protection every day, it’s critical that the administration renew its commitment to aggressive implementation of this landmark law. We hope the guardians of our wildlife and the health of our planet will take to heart the suggestions of the millions of Americans represented by these 250-plus groups.”

Groups on the letter include Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the Center for Biological Diversity, Endangered Species Coalition, Network of Spiritual Progressives, Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, Audubon chapters from around the country and many more.

adapted from CBD news release

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