Failing Grade for the Endangered Species Act

Recent stories have highlighted the growing cost (in terms of resources and jobs) and diminishing benefits of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Construction workers building an underpass in Texas came across “bracken bat cave mesh weaver”(BBCMW)  – a blind, translucent spider.  The species, which had not been seen in 30 years, was thought to be extinct.  Thank goodness we’ve found it!  Except for one thing, to confirm its identity researchers killed the spider.  In doing so they may have killed the last remaining BBCMW in existence.  Good going.

This is not the first time the government has killed species in an effort to protect them – just look at the record of the black-footed ferret.  Since the existence of the, now late, spider has been confirmed, the $15 million dollar highway underpass is on hold indefinitely – costing money and jobs and all to protect a spider.  No one can seriously argue that the spider was in interstate commerce; the threshold for the federal government to supposedly be protecting species.  Nor can they argue with a straight face that the spider is a critical component of the associated ecosystem the absence of which would cause a cataclysmic collapse of said ecosystem, or that it could hold of miracle health cure or other useful commercial product.

This is almost as bad as the delhi sands flower loving fly which delayed a highway and a hospital in a rural area in California for more than a year. In that case, the day before San Bernadino and Riverside counties in California were to break ground on a new hospital, the USFWS listed the Delhi Sands flower-loving fly as endangered. Eight Delhi flies were found on the hospital site and the USFWS threatened to prosecute the counties if they built the hospital as planned. According to Ike Sugg, a wildlife specialist at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, while the counties and the USFWS have been negotiating:

  • The counties spent more than $4.5 million dollars – more than half a million per fly.
  • The counties had to spend additional millions  to buy land to establish a fly preserve.

At the time, one USFWS official demanded that Interstate 10, an eight-lane freeway adjacent to the hospital site, be shut down or slowed to 15 miles an hour during the two months of the fly’s above-ground lifespan.

From blind spiders to jumping rats, to wolves, to owls, the ESA has cost and continues to pose a serious threat to hundreds of thousands of people’s peaceful enjoyment of their property (property rights guaranteed by the Constitution) and/or their jobs.

While I think the ESA is unacceptable on the face of it.  One might still ask,” With the significant costs involved, aren’t the benefits of saving species from extinction worth it?”  If the ESA actually saved species, we might be able to debate the question, however, it doesn’t.  the ESA has patently failed by any reasonable standard over the years to protect the species it’s meant to preserve.

Suppose a federal education program for high-risk students enrolled 1,434 U.S. children and 618 foreign kids but graduated only 56 in 39 years, at a cost of tens of billions of dollars. A school system with this record would have been shut down years ago.  But that’s precisely the record of the ESA.

Even worse, the a majority of the delistings (the equivalent of graduation) were due not to the recovery efforts under the ESA but due to data errors, exinctions and other state, federal or private efforts that saved species.

  • 10 were delisted due to extinction.
  • 18 were delisted because of “data errors” – they either were undercounted when added to the list or were later determined not to be distinct species.
  • 9 exist solely on federal lands and are therefore federally protected without the ESA.
  • 3 were decimated by a pesticide, DDT, and recovered largely due to the DDT ban in 1972.
  •  The 16 remaining species have  conserved by state agencies or private organizations, with only minimal contributions by the federal government.

It is unclear whether any species has been recovered soley or even primarily due to ESA protections.

ESA, ohaaa, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, say it again …

 

Comments (11)

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  1. Lizze says:

    Wow, you could of hired 102 teachers for the cost of the Dipteras preservation.

  2. Lloyd says:

    The ESA seems to be very involved in areas such as Califonia and Austin,Texas. If they were actually successful in their efforts, maybe they would be a group worth defending their efforts. Too bad it sounds like the ESA is just a huge waste…

  3. seyyed says:

    hopefully they revist the ESA and make it more about cooperating with local and private entities in saving species, since that’s what seems to be working

  4. Robert says:

    No one can seriously argue that the spider was in interstate commerce; the threshold for the federal government to supposedly be protecting species. Nor can they argue with a straight face that the spider is a critical component of the associated ecosystem the absence of which would cause a cataclysmic collapse of said ecosystem, or that it could hold of miracle health cure or other useful commercial product.

    I agree that more thought needs to go into ESA decisions. In the case of the Delhi Sands fly, most locals considered in a nusance.

    I like the comparison to at-risk student graduation rate. Good stuff.

  5. Jordan says:

    There’s big money in conservation.

    Poor BBCMW. In the military there is a term for that kind of research. It’s called “Recon-by-Fire.”

  6. Fekicity says:

    wow they probably killed the last surviving spices of that spider oh my god i am so pissed

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