Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), one of the few environmental conservation organizations actively engaged in human population issues, has released a report to coincide with Endangered Species Day (today, May 18th, 2012). Titled “On Time, On Target: How the Endangered Species Act Is Saving America’s Wildlife,” the study took an in-depth look at 110 protected species from all 50 states — from whales and sea turtles to foxes and whooping cranes — to determine how well the Act is working for them. Results indicate that 90% of the studied species are recovering right on time to meet recovery goals set by federal scientists.
The study, says CBD, is a potent rebuke of critics who deem the Act a failure. See: http://www.esasuccess.org/
I might also add, as an fyi, CBD has recently been in the cross-hairs of Shell Oil, having been sued twice by them.
On Time, On Target: How the Endangered Species Act Is Saving America’s Wildlife
Critics of the Endangered Species Act contend it is a failure because only 1 percent of the species under its protection have recovered and been delisted. The critique, however, is undermined by its failure to explain how many species should have recovered by now. It is a ship without an anchor.
To objectively test whether the Endangered Species Act is recovering species at a sufficient rate, we compared the actual recovery rate of 110 species with the projected recovery rate in their federal recovery plans. The species range over all 50 states, include all major taxonomic groups, and have a diversity of listing lengths.
We found that the Endangered Species Act has a remarkably successful recovery rate: 90 percent of species are recovering at the rate specified by their federal recovery plan.
On average, species recovered in 25 years, while their recovery plan predicted 23 years – a 91 percent timeliness accomplishment.
We confirmed the conclusion of scientists and auditors who assert that the great majority of species have not been listed long enough to warrant an expectation of recovery: 80 percent of species have not yet reached their expected recovery year. On average, these species have been listed for just 32 years, while their recovery plans required 46 years of listing.
The study’s findings are similar to a 2006 analysis of all federally protected species in the Northeast, which found 93 percent were stabilized or improving since being put on the endangered species list and 82 percent were on pace to meet recovery goals.
When judged in the light of meeting recovery plan timelines for recovery, the Endangered Species Act is remarkably successful. Few laws of any kind can boast a 90 percent success rate.
Here are a few examples of species studied:
Aleutian Canada goose. Once nearly driven extinct by foxes introduced to their nesting islands in Alaska and by habitat destruction and hunting in California and Oregon, Aleutian Canada geese are today a clear success story. After a small population was found on a remote Alaskan island in the Aleutian chain, the goose was listed as an endangered species in 1967. Nonnative fox populations were controlled, nesting habitat was protected with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge’s creation in 1980, and wintering and migration habitat was protected in California and Oregon. The Aleutian Canada goose population grew from 790 birds in 1975 to more than 60,000 in 2005. It was downlisted to “threatened” in 1990, declared recovered and removed from the endangered list in 2001, seven years earlier than projected by its recovery plan.
Black-footed ferret. This 2-foot-long, black-masked member of the weasel family once occurred in central grasslands and basins from southern Canada to Texas but is now one of the most endangered mammals in North America. In the early 1900s, the United States was likely home to more than 5 million ferrets. But ferrets, which hunt prairie dogs for food and live in their burrows, were almost wiped out early in the 20th century after agricultural development and rodent poisons devastated prairie dog populations. Thirteen years after they were listed as endangered in 1967, the last captive ferret died, and the animals were thought to be extinct in North America. Then in 1981 a small relic population was discovered in a Wyoming prairie dog colony. Between 1991 and 1999, about 1,200 ferrets from that population were released in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Arizona and along the Utah/Colorado border. At least two of those reintroduced populations are established and no longer require releases of captive-raised ferrets. Biologists estimate there are now a total of about 700 black-footed ferrets living in the wild.
Current World Population
Net Growth During Your Visit