Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Lawsuits Save the Monarch Butterfly?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Lawsuits Save the Monarch Butterfly?

Article excerpt

Animal species can become endangered due to causes as diverse as logging, pesticides, and motor boats, but one conservation organization aims to save the monarch butterfly by using a different man-made process: litigation.

The Center for Biological Diversity, along with the Center for Food Safety, is threatening to sue the US Fish and Wildlife Service for taking more time than permitted by the Endangered Species Act to decide whether the monarch butterfly warrants protection.

As of Jan. 12, the center has already launched or threatened legal action on behalf of species five times in 2016. The New Mexico- based non-profit employs lawsuits so regularly that their notices of intent have the same format and wording. They use them to secure more extensive protection for species such as the California Spotted Owl and Virgin River Spinedace, according to its website:

Based on our unparalleled record of legal successes - 93 percent of our lawsuits result in favorable outcomes - we've developed a unique negotiating position with both government agencies and private corporations, enabling us, at times, to secure broad protections for species and habitat without the threat of litigation.While it can't force the US Fish and Wildlife Service to place the monarch butterfly on the Endangered Species list, Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the the Center for Biological Diversity says the group can file a notice of intent to get a binding date for a decision by the end of the year.

"Ninety-nine percent of listed species have been saved from extinction," Ms. Curry says.

One example of progress related to the Endangered Species Act came recently, as the US Fish and Wildlife Service moved to pull the manatee's "endangered" designation last week. The shift from "endangered" to "threatened" status for manatees is still hypothetical pending review, but the Florida manatee community grew by nearly fourfold since the 1990s, The Christian Science Monitor reported. …

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