The government has published a final regulation that provides for extensive exemptions from critical habitats under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which severely weaken the protection of wildlife. This rule is likely especially harmful to state-dependent species such as the owl, the marbled murrelet, and the western yellow-billed cuckoo.
“The government has continued its war on birds for the past few days,” said Mike Parr, president of the American Bird Conservancy (ABC). “Needless to say, we will strike back on their behalf.”
“This new critical habitat rule is another hurdle in the race for bird extinction,” said Steve Holmer, vice president of policy at ABC. “Species in difficulty, such as the owl and the marbled murrelet, need additional habitat provided by restoring old growth under the Northwest Forest Plan. Instead, both are at risk of further habitat loss. “
Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Copyright Glyn Sellors, from the Surfbirds Galleries
ABC approved a comment from environmental rights group Earthjustice that included:
“We strongly oppose the proposal for a regulation, which would create unnecessary and illegal barriers to the achievement of ESA’s objective of conserving the ecosystems on which endangered and threatened species depend. … would prevent the proposal from being illegal [the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] from exercising the discretion conferred by law to make decisions about the designation of a particular area[s] as a critical habitat “on a case-by-case basis.… The proposed regulation would unduly place excessive weight on economic considerations in habitat decisions that prioritize the recreational needs of species and should be determined by the best available science. In addition, it would be easier to withdraw the protection of vital habitats in federal states where designation offers the greatest conservation benefits. “