Uncounted endangered species addressed in Stewart’s new House bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Rep. Chris Stewart introduced the Endangered Species Improvement Act of 2014. This bill would amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973, to require that the federal government count all species dwelling on both public and private lands, in determining species recovery.

“The intent of the Endangered Species Act is to protect species from extinction—an absolutely noble and needed cause,” Stewart said. “Unfortunately, not all laws are perfect, and in this case, the interpretation of the law is resulting in inaccurate data collection, potentially preventing healthy and growing species from being removed from the threatened or endangered list.”

For example, in Southern Utah, the Utah prairie dog has been a listed species under the Endangered Species Act since 1973. In the species recovery plan for the Utah prairie dog, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counts only prairie dogs living on federal land to determine whether or not the species is recovering and could be delisted.  They do not count the thousands of prairie dogs found on state, local and private lands in order to determine recovery.

“As it turns out, like the human population, the prairie dogs prefer to live on land with water, grass and crops,” Stewart said. “As a result, there are large populations of prairie dogs in yards, parks, cemeteries, and fields that never get counted toward recovery because they don’t live on federal lands. Many wonder whether the species could be delisted if these dogs were included in official counts used to determine whether the species is on the path to recovery. Moreover, I am concerned that only counting part of a population of any species to determine species recovery could hugely expand the reach of the ESA.”

“This is a common-sense reform that simply asks for accurate population counts when assessing the status of threatened or endangered species. I have had conversations with the Interior Secretary, Sally Jewel, about this problem and I am hopeful that we will be able to work together to find a solution.” Stewart said.

Resources

See the full text of the bill here: 20140317 US House Bill – Endangered Species Improvement Act of 2014

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5 Comments

  • Bub March 17, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Possible to count all the of idiots in the republican party as well?

    • Bub March 17, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      *Possible to count all of the idiots in the republican party as well?

  • Kieran Suckling March 17, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Joyce,

    Stewart either has either no idea what he’s talking about. The Utah prairie dog recovery plan–which is available on the internet for all to see–is strongly reliant on prairie dog numbers and conservation on private land. Here are some direct quotes from it:

    “We emphasize conserving extant colonies, many of which occur on non-Federal lands; establishing additional colonies on Federal and non-Federal lands via habitat improvement or translocations; controlling the transmission of plague; and monitoring habitat conditions”

    “Actions needed…Conserve sufficient acreages and distribution of occupied Utah prairie dog habitat on Federal, State, Tribal, and private lands.”

    “The purpose of the programmatic SHA is to provide a mechanism for partnering with private landowners, largely agricultural producers, to promote the conservation of Utah prairie dogs through the voluntary restoration, enhancement, and management of farms and ranchlands across the species’ range, while providing regulatory assurances to landowners.”

    “Safe Harbor or other private landowner conservation efforts will continue to
    be part of our recovery efforts to promote public education and foster proactive grazing practices that will simultaneously benefit Utah prairie dog habitats”

    “Because many endangered and threatened species occur exclusively, or to a large extent, on privately owned property, the involvement of the private sector in the conservation and recovery of species is crucial.”

    “The SHA tool is essential to the recovery of Utah prairie dogs because approximately 70% of the
    species’ population occurs on private lands. The SHA program can promote the conservation of Utah prairie dogs through the voluntary restoration, enhancement, and management of farm and ranchlands in southwestern Utah, and assurances provided to landowners can help gain support for species conservation efforts range-wide”

    Please write a follow up story asking Stewart to explain his wildly incorrect statements in light of the clear language of the recovery plan. As a public figure, he needs to held accountable for false public statement and politically-motivated misconceptions.

    Kieran Suckling
    Executive Director
    Center for Biological Diversity

  • Mark March 18, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Bub – It’s very easy to count the Republicans. They are alive and have and or want, an ID to vote. Probably a lot harder to find a Democrat voter.

  • JSD March 19, 2014 at 6:12 am

    Bub, you sound like a stuck record (if anyone can remember them) and not just for the double post. You really should try and add a pertinent point or two to the discussion at hand instead of spouting the same old “ignorant repubs” blather in almost every post of yours. It’s getting to the point where I’ll just skip over your posts because I already know what your going to say. C’mon man. Try to be a little more creative!

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