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Geographical Index > United States > Washington > King County > Article # 112

Media Article # 112
Article submitted by Richard Noll

Tuesday, February 27, 1996

Brief to the Standing Policy Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

By Richard McGuire
Western Stock Growers' Association

Endangered Species Act

The ultimate stupidity of endangered species protection was reported by Channel 7 News in Calgary (The News at 6 PM. CICT Independent Calgary Television) early this month. Bipedus giganticus, sasquatch or big foot, has been declared an endangered species in the US. Thus, habitat must now be protected for it even though its existence has not been proven nor a single specimen collected! This even beats consideration that a Puerto Rican cockroach is endangered and its habitat must be protected. (People can't clean their own kitchens?)

The federal government still intends to bring an Endangered Species Protection Act to Parliament that would affect the use, enjoyment and disposition of property and threatens to hamstring sectors of the economy that utilize land and other natural resources. We also note that the Alberta government will introduce its own Endangered Species Act.

We remain extremely nervous about these initiatives and their suspected impact on agriculture in general and the ranching
industry in particular. There have been numerous problems for all resource users associated with the Endangered Species Act now in force in the US. The same situation could easily emerge here.9 The WSGA recommends against adopting such legislation.

Instead, government should encourage private arrangements to protect habitat such as those arranged by the Nature
Conservancy of Canada, the Deseret Ranch in Utah or the Government of Zimbabwe for protecting elephants.
The fact is, we know of no species of plant or animal that has become extinct if it is privately owned, at least in part. The
same cannot be said concerning species `held in common' or protected by legislation.

Further, the experience of cattle producers in the United States is that they have shouldered the cost of protecting species and natural resources for the public good. Their reward has been the loss of use and of value of their property.

As the province becomes drawn in to the protection of so-called endangered species, the WSGA recommends extreme caution so that the rights of Albertans are fully protected. To that end, we recommend the adoption of the following goals in a bottom up approach.

1) Land goals:
maintain productive capacity for producing food and feed through sustainable development (existing long-term agriculture policy); management of habitat for both domestic livestock and wildlife; control access to such lands to limit disturbance to all species; and empower the landholder to make appropriate management decisions.

2) People goals:
allow local stakeholders a voice in the process; maintain necessities of life; and maintain quality of life.

3) Financial goals:
determination of all direct and indirect costs of protection;
determination of all economic impacts and all benefits; and
preparation of a comprehensive budget to show how and by whom the action plan will be paid.

4) Global goals:
action plan must further global goals of protecting endangered species and species diversity including the production of food
here in exchange for sustainable, environmentally compatible development in areas at risk, such as the Amazon rain forest.

5) Government goals:
create a regulatory environment that facilitates flexible responses to endangered species management and avoids coercion of landholders; provide integration and funding of the foregoing processes; and facilitate management by landholders.

Bibliographical Information:

The above is from page 6 of the 15 page report.

Additional info published in the same journal July 1995 (page 5 of the 13page report:

"A National Approach to Endangered Species Conservation in Canada"

The American Experience

Before proceeding with a Canadian ESA, we should carefully study the American experience with their law the model for ours. Joyce Lancey states, "It's called the `pit bull' of environmental legislation for good reason. The Endangered Species Act originally conceived to conserve and protect has become the chief weapon of preservationists in a dog fight against growth, development, and (you guessed it) ranching of any kind."

Aided and abetted by environmental activists, the American ESA has taken on a life of its own. Legislative authorization actually ran out in 1992 and Congress has not taken any action to renew it. Yet, on 29 June 1995, the US Supreme Court ruled the government must protect threatened plants and animals by forbidding the destruction of their habitat even on private property.

Environmentalists hailed the decision as a victory, especially since over 90 per cent of US listed endangered species exist on private land.

The situation may finally force Congress to act. Oregon Senator Bob Packwood, for example, said the law should be rewritten "so that people count as much as bugs and birds and plants." But any attempt to ease restrictions on landowners will be met with fierce opposition by the environmental lobby. In fact, the American law as used by activists has become a monster which cannot be tamed. Consider the following sampling of its provisions:

The American ESA mandates that listings will be made or refuted only on "the best scientific and commercial data

Economic consequences will not be considered.

The ESA fails to acknowledge private property rights.

The presence of an endangered species restricts development of private land and even forbids any otherwise proper land management which could be perceived as modifying the habitat of a listed species resulting in devaluation of the land's value without compensation.

An unlawful "take" can occur even when there is no evidence of immediate or specific injury to the listed species.

If authorities decide livestock are a threat to a listed species or its habitat, grazing could be restricted or prohibited, even on
private property.

The Act prohibits federal agencies to authorize, fund, or carry out activities that may jeopardize a listed species or modify its
habitat even working with a rancher to protect such a species.

The Act includes a "similarity of appearance" clause which has been used by preservationists to defend animals that may be neither threatened or endangered, but resemble in appearance a listed species.

The Act authorizes the acquisition of land and water by the federal government (via purchase, donation or condemnation) to sustain protected species.

Anyone, regardless of credentials, can propose a species for listing as "threatened" (likely to become endangered) or as
"endangered" (in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range). By the same token, anyone can refute the claims, regardless of credentials. One does not have to be a scientist, but one must have scientific evidence.

It is frightening to think that Canada is contemplating a similar law with essentially the same provisions. The problem isn't so much with the original intent, it's with the wording of the Act, the bureaucracy that develops after passage, and the rules and regulations the bureaucracy creates.

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