endangered animal imports|
2004-03-09, 12:59 p.m.
Bush Plan Would Destroy Species in Order to Save Them
Over 350 scientists from the world conservation community released a letter to the Bush administration yesterday, protesting a "highly dubious" policy change that could send many endangered species into extinction.
The letter charges the administration with using questionable science to justify changes to trade policy under the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced the proposed change last fall.
If enacted, the revised policy would allow imports of endangered species, or products derived from such species, "to encourage in-situ conservation of foreign-listed species."
The scientists note that the FWS has not defined standards or methods for monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of such programs, citing examples of "unanticipated and sometimes catastrophic" results from trade in endangered species, including increased hunting, fewer births, and greater infant mortality. "These disruptions can lead to substantial population declines and, in some circumstances, to total population collapse."
"As scientists and wildlife professionals, we recognize the intuitive appeal of sustainable use as a source of much-needed conservation funding, particularly in less-developed countries," the letter states. "The history of negative outcomes from such programs counsels strongly against extractive use as a conservation tool for species already in danger of extinction."
Signatories to the letter include world-renowned scientists Jane Goodall, Edward O. Wilson, and George Schaller.
While there may be a combination of interests behind the proposed trade rule change, one likely source of pressure is the trophy hunting industry. The Deputy of Fish and Wildlife, Matt Hogan, is a former lobbyist for the Safari Club, and served as Director of Conservation Policy for four years for the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.
John Kostyack of the National Wildlife Federation also notes that while the connection is not certain, "the pet trade is a multi-million dollar industry that would also benefit from relaxed rules for importing exotic tropical fish and birds."
Kostyack emphasized the lack of good science or good policy behind the administration's arguments for increasing trade in endangered species. "Scientists who've been in the field are saying there are no checks that ensure the conservation is happening," he stated, "or that the last member of a species isn't being harvested."
Submit a comment to Fish & Wildlife Service and ask them to reverse policy that expands the import of endangered species.
 Federal Register Vol. 68 No. 175, Wednesday, September 10, 2003.
 Defender's letter, Mar. 4, 2004.
"Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation." - Martin Luther King, Jr.