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Saving Species or Saving Face?

In early May, Interior Secretary Babbitt made a dramatic and much-publicized announcement ~ 34 species would be considered for delisting, thus showing the 1973 Endangered Species Act is working.

"Our new policy, to emphasize delisting, could alter the terms of debate over this landmark conservation law," proclaimed Babbitt. "For now we can finally prove one thing conclusively: The ESA works. Period. In the near future, many species will be flying, splashing and leaping off the list. They’re coming back to their native American soil, water and wind."

If only it were so. A closer look at Babbitt’s list shows a record of failure, not success.

For the ESA to "work" it would have to "recover" listed species ~ that is the law’s stated goal. After 25 years of regulation, the ESA has failed to legitimately recover a single species.

Of the 34 species Babbitt proclaims to be ESA successes, not one has been recovered because of the ESA. 5 species have actually gone extinct (these 5 were later retracted by Interior Dept. spokesman as a "mistake"), 12 species were never in trouble to begin with (data errors), 16 species have apparently improved, but not due to the ESA and the last doesn’t even fit the delisting criteria (it has not been reintroduced to its historic habitat, although it thrives elsewhere).

The 16 improved species can be attributed to banning the pesticide DDT in 1972 (a year before ESA), state and local efforts to restore habitat and land purchases, not regulations.

In an August response to Congress, the Fish & Wildlife (FWS) Director admitted the announcement was an "unfortunate error." 30 Congressmen of the Western Caucus called on Babbitt to "issue a fact-based correction that accurately portrays the reasons for the changes in the species status."

After 25 years and 1138 listed species, the best Babbitt can do is a list of extinctions, mistakes, exaggerations and false claims. Babbitt’s announcement merely shows that such regulations aren’t working, aren’t needed and should not exist.

--Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and National Wilderness Institute

For More Information Contact:

American Land Rights Association
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