SCI has publicized its strong support for improvements to the Endangered Species Act recently proposed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Additionally, several local SCI chapters are backing a package of nine bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives offered by the Congressional Western Caucus.
The caucus is chaired by Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, SCI’s 2017 Legislator of the Year. The plethora of bills address the long overdue need to modernize the ESA and bring the law into the 21st Century.
With the introduction of the Western Caucus bills, more than 20 bills bills have now been introduced in the House or Senate to significantly amend or modernize the ESA.
In May, during the 2018 Lobby Day, SCI members from across the country met with scores of Members of Congress or their staff to discuss issues important to hunters. One of the main topics was ESA modernization and getting States more involved with listing decisions.
Senator John Barrasso (WY-R) recently introduced draft legislation to address the continuing problems with the current ESA. In a speech addressing the need for this legislation, Senator Barrasso, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, noted that since the ESA became law 45 years ago, over 2,400 plant and animal species have been added to the list and only 54 have come off of the list.
Senator Barrasso also addressed the need for states to be involved in wildlife conservation management. “Maybe the problems with the Endangered Species Act don’t seem so clear to bureaucrats in Washington, DC. But when you go out West to places like my home state of Wyoming, the problems are obvious.”
“When the law was written, states didn’t have the conservation capacity that they have today. States over the past 45 years have dramatically expanded their expertise and their ability to manage species. They have done a remarkable job over the past 45 years.”
Making the ESA more responsive and involving state and local wildlife authorities will benefit hunters and will acknowledge the contribution hunters have made to species recovery through sustainable use conservation.
The D.C. swamp and radical environmental groups like to call ESA modernization “attacks” on the law or efforts to weaken wildlife management. Hunters and conservation experts know the opposite is true and have the facts on their side. Hunting helps recovery and should be available as a conservation tool to state and local wildlife managers.
While it is unlikely all these bills will be enacted this year given the time constraints of the current Congress, it is encouraging to see that a growing number of federal legislators are recognizing the value of sustainable use conservation.
Hunters and SCI members should expect these bills to be reintroduced in the next Congress starting in 2019 as momentum grows for change.