Fabricating Success at the Fish and Wildlife Service

ESA Header

“The Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been so ineffective at recovering species that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has fabricated a record of success.”

Report by Robert Gordon, The Heritage Foundation

ESA Myths & ScamsA record of failure and fabrication for over nearly half-a-century, a new report by Robert Gordon of the Heritage Foundation calls for sweeping administrative reforms of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The ESA Recovering Only 40 Species since 1973

“If not one more bird. beetle, or bear were added to the list of federally endangered or threatened animals and plants and somehow species recovered at 10 times that rate,” the report notes, “It would take well over a century-and-a-half to work through the current list. There is, however, no indication that the list of regulated species will stop growing.”

Federally Funded Fiction

Removing Science from ESAEven worse, almost half of the “recovered” species – 18 out of 40 – are what Gordon calls “federally funded fiction.” It turns out that these 18 “recovered” species were never endangered in the first place and were placed on the endangered species list due to poor data. This, however, has not kept the Department of Interior’s Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) from trumpeting their “recovery” as a success.

“This deceitful practice portrays mistakes as successes, distorting the most important measure of the program,” Gordon writes. “It also triggers other mandatory actions further wasting taxpayer dollars, serves as a justification for the adoption of more restrictive land management practices by other agencies, obscures significant problems with the data used to justify listing species, and erodes the overall credibility of the Service and the program.”

ESA DefinitionsWere it not for the incompetence and dishonesty of the FWS, the examples of phony recoveries cited in the report would be comical. The Concho water snake found itself on the endangered list, because the FWS determined that the construction of a reservoir would destroy its habitat. After the reservoir was created, the snake slithered right in, and its numbers thrived. Also, the FWS found that it had grossly underestimated the size of the snake’s range. In touting the success of the snake’s “recovery,” the FWS said the creature had faced “habitat modification and destruction” but refused to acknowledge that the water snake was never threatened.

Johnston’s Frankenia, a plant found only in a few counties in southern Texas, was put on the endangered species list in 1984. At the time, the FWS claimed there were only five population with about 1,000 plants and that they were facing “grazing pressure.” Subsequent surveys found about 4 million plants by one estimate – and over 9 million by another. While the estimate of 4 million was available by 1999, it took the FWS another 17 years to delist the plant.

Then there is the Maguire Daisy, an example of taxonomic error. In 2011, the FWS triumphantly announced the delisting of the daisy in a press release titled. “An Endangered Species Success Story,” stating that the “population of the daisy was known to number seven plants when it was listed as endangered in 1985 but now numbers 163,000 plants with 10 populations….It is the 21st species to be delisted due to recovery.” Gordon points out, however, that the larger numbers reflects more thorough surveys and “the fact that the Maguire Daisy and another plant that had been believed to be distinct were in fact the same species.”

ESA Impact on Landowners and Businesses

Complying with ESA“Even if a species should never have been listed, while it is listed, landowners or businesses whose actions might unintentionally harm a member are potentially subject to the ESA’s fines and penalties,” Gordon writes. The report’s appendix provides information on 100 listed species that were or may have been erroneously listed but remain regulated under the ESA as well as a number that are possibly extinct.

The ESA has been a mess for decades, wasting public and private resources while doing precious little for the plants and animals it is supposed to protect…

Previous ArticleNext Article
Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *