New Study: Harmful Bush Policy, Still in Effect, Wrongly Cut Protections for Wolf, Trout, Mouse, Prairie Dog, and Penguin

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

New Study: Harmful Bush Policy, Still in Effect, Wrongly Cut Protections for Wolf, Trout, Mouse, Prairie Dog, and Penguin

PORTLAND, Ore. - A new study published in the international journal Conservation Biology,
and authored by the Center for Biological Diversity's endangered
species director Noah Greenwald, found that a policy issued by the Bush
administration in 2007 wrongfully limited protections under the
Endangered Species Act for five species: the northern Rocky Mountains
gray wolf, Colorado River cutthroat trout, Preble's meadow jumping
mouse, Gunnison's prairie dog, and southern rockhopper penguin.

The
study determined that the Bush-era policy resulted in protection being
denied altogether for the trout and protection being limited to small
fractions of their ranges for the four other species.

"According
to our study, this Bush-era policy improperly limited protections for
some of the nation's most iconic wildlife," said Greenwald. "This
policy threatens the very survival of these five species and should be
scrapped as soon as possible."

Under the Endangered
Species Act, an endangered species is defined as any species "in danger
of extinction in all or a significant of portion of its range." The
phrase "significant portion of range" is important, because it means
that species need not be at risk of extinction globally to receive
protection, but rather can receive protection if they are at risk in
significant portions of their range. The Bush-era policy, which was
issued by the solicitor of the Department of the Interior, specified
that when determining whether a species is endangered in a significant
portion of range, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should only
consider current and not historic range. It also asserted that when a
species is found to be endangered in a portion of its range, protection
would only be applied in this portion.

Both of these positions represent a sharp departure from past practice by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

"This
policy allows the Fish and Wildlife Service to deny protection to
species even if they have lost most of their historic range and to
limit protection for species to the most endangered portions of their
range," said Greenwald. "That severely undermines protections for
endangered species like the wolf, prairie dog, trout, mouse, and
penguin."

In the case of the Colorado River
cutthroat trout, protection was denied even though Fish and Wildlife
has acknowledged that it has been lost from 87 percent of its historic
range and continues to face many threats. The other species were
granted protection, but in only small fractions of their range. For
example, even though the Gunnison's prairie dog has been eliminated
from 95 percent of its historic range and faces threats from plague,
shooting, and habitat destruction throughout its range, it was granted
protection in only 40 percent of its current range, including a limited
area in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. 

"Despite
clear problems, the Obama administration has yet to revoke this
damaging policy," said Greenwald. "This study clearly indicates the
policy should be axed as soon as possible to ensure that more species
are not harmed."

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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