SCI Voices Support for Modernizing the Endangered Species Act as Senate Holds Hearing

Safari Club International recently submitted a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee in support of legislation intended to revamp the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to meet modern challenges and address misguided application associated with the ESA.

Senate Bill 4589, the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2020, was introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R – WY) on September 23. “I introduced this legislation to modernize and strengthen the Endangered Species Act. It is the culmination of a collaboration with stakeholders from across the political spectrum that began four years ago. During my time as chairman, we have held five different hearings on how the Endangered Species Act needs to be reformed, so it works better for wildlife and for people. It is clear, legislation is needed to accomplish this goal,” said Senator Barrasso. Endangered species issues are a priority for Senator Barrasso, and as chairman of the EPW Committee he routinely attempts to address those issues. 

SCI president Scott Chapman submitted a formal letter to Senator Barrasso, reaffirming the organization’s support for the proposed amendments. The letter states that this comprehensive piece of legislation would address many of the failings of the existing Endangered Species Act.  In particular, SCI agrees with the bill’s provisions that would: 

(1) increase the role of states in ESA decision-making;
(2) facilitate the participation of states and other affected parties in ESA litigation,
and more specifically in settlement discussions over the resolution of these cases;
(3) prohibit litigation over species delistings until the completion of the five-year post-delisting monitoring period; and
(4) provide regulatory status for conservation agreements for the purpose of listing and delisting decisions.

Despite clear-cut evidence supporting the motives behind this legislation, it still received pushback from Senator Tom Carper (D – DE), the minority ranking member on the EPW Committee, and others who seem to think that wildlife benefits from slow recovery efforts and unending legal battles about ESA decision-making.

“Animal rights and anti-hunting groups oppose amending the ESA because they refuse to recognize the good conservation work that states do after species are recovered and delisted from the ESA,” said SCI Director of Government Affairs, Ben Cassidy. “Anytime a species is delisted from the ESA, they condemn the action and challenge it in court, regardless of the fact that the species has recovered, and the recovery should be celebrated as a success story.  The ESA needs to be amended to allow for better implementation and recognition of successful conservation efforts.”

The  EPW Committee has been active on other wildlife conservation-related issues in recent weeks as well, having passed the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act on September 17 after making some last-minute amendments. Sen. Barrasso also recently held a hearing on legislation to remove the designation of grizzly bears as a threatened species under the ESA.