ESA candidate list criticized by group
The Canada lynx is proposed for listing as a threatened species on the Oct. 25 candidates list issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
October 26, 1999
Web posted at: 4:05 p.m. EDT (2005 GMT)
Two-hundred and fifty-eight species of plants and animals may be added to the candidates list for protection under the Endangered Species Act according to a notice from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Monday.
By definition, the candidates list includes species for which the Fish and Wildlife Service has sufficient information on their biological status and threats to propose them as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The candidates list "provides an advance look at which species the service is considering proposing for protection, encourages conservation, and helps to avoid conflicts by promoting alternative planning and development strategies that accommodate the needs of candidate species," according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release.
Nevertheless, the candidates list has many conservationists up in arms. They say the designation will only insulate the species it includes from protection.
"Species on the candidates list are allowed to languish for decades without protection. This is an agency policy used to prevent people from filing listing petitions," said Kieran Suckling, the executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Chiracahau leopard frog is a candidate species that sparked a lawsuit for further protection from conservationists.
Recent U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service policy changes allow the agency to disregard citizen petitions to list candidate species as endangered. Without petitions, the agency is not required to follow legislatively mandated listing timelines. Activists charge that the policy is illegal.
According to Suckling, 90 percent of those species that end up on the Endangered Species List are a result of the petitioning process.
"This is an anti-democratic stance. They're cutting public involvement out of the ESA all together."
Suckling said the revised candidates list was carefully coordinated with the release of new ESA listing regulations released last Friday.
"The Fish and Wildlife Service has been sued over the candidates list repeatedly," said Suckling. "You can't name a species that has been listed without a court order over the last 10 years, unless it was an obscure endemic species with no political impact."
Among those candidate species that have resulted in lawsuits are the Chirachau leopard frog and the Gila Chub fish, both residents of the Gila Basin in New Mexico.
Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved
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