Newspaper article

Endangered-Species Protection Should Be Strengthened, Not Gutted

Newspaper article

Endangered-Species Protection Should Be Strengthened, Not Gutted

Article excerpt

I saw an eagle on Sunday, high above the Mississippi in St. Paul, swooping and soaring over the river under a bright blue sky.

When I was in junior high school, back in the early 1960s, bald eagles were an endangered species. Growing up on a farm near Litchfield, I saw kingfishers and orioles, mourning doves and meadowlarks, but never a bald eagle. Back then, only 487 nesting pairs of bald eagles still lived in the lower 48 states. They were on the path to extinction, my teachers told us, like passenger pigeons, which were extinct before I was born.

The biggest birds I saw back then were Canadian geese migrating in their V formations, spring and fall. Today, as I drive west on Highway 12, I see swans, pelicans, herons, and egrets floating in prairie potholes or flying overhead. Flocks of wild turkeys congregate in country fields and even in my city neighborhood.

Success stories of Endangered Species Act

Today, eagles soar over rivers and highways and cornfields. They, like wild turkeys and timber wolves, are success stories of conservation efforts like the Endangered Species Act, first passed back in 1966 as my teachers told us about the coming extinction of eagles.

The Endangered Species Preservation Act was expanded in 1969 and replaced by the current Endangered Species Act in 1973. The 1973 Endangered Species Act passed the Senate without a single dissenting vote, and the House by a vote of 390-12. Along with its powerful protection, other environmental legislation, like the federal ban on DDT, was also crucial for eagles. DDT poisoned not only insects and other birds, but also fish and the eagles that ate them.

Now the Trump administration is gutting the Endangered Species Act, along with other environmental protections. The administration has announced new regulations making it easier to remove species from the endangered list and weakening protections for both endangered and “threatened” species, a status one step below “endangered.” Instead of protecting wild creatures and their habitat, these new rules prioritize profits. They mandate a cost/benefit analysis as more important than evaluation of threats to habitat and survival of species. …

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