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Going Green

Green Light for Green States (can you Bear it?)

by Dave Armstrong 30 Sep 2011
Green Light for Green States (can you Bear it?)

The journal Science has given US states the green light literally. Where any native species is not under any special protection, there is an obligation for conservation. Because wildlife is not owned, all citizens and therefore the State concerned must act, according to the public trust doctrine. This papers three authors worry that many organisms could be affected by the loss of Federal help.

While the gray Wolf is cited, having "successfully" lost its endangered species protection in the northern Rockies, watch out Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Utah. All of your endangered species are under threat. While the Fish and wildlife service have finally managed to delist the wolf from the Federal Endangered Species List, Jeremy Bruskotter from Ohio State University statesthis in a co-authored paper (Rescuing Wolves from Politics: Wildlife as a Public Trust Resource). "If you recognize a wildlife trust doctrine, and that the state has the obligation to maintain these populations in perpetuity not just for current residents but for future residents, then there is a degree of protection for species in the absence of the statutory protection." Co-author Sherry Enzler of the University of Minnesota's Forest resources Department thinks that case law also needs to be established in order to place the situation beyond doubt.

The Oregon Silverspot

Speyeria zerene hippolyta, The Oregon Silverspot

State government has always had control of wildlife resources, but Fed. Interference began in the 1960s and with the Endangered Species Act itself in 1973. States were also helpless to act when the wolf reintroduction programme began in the west. With such a history, the showdown had to come when 2002 saw the successful wolf meeting federal goals. Most states have shown traditional, strong conservation streaks, while some western legislatures have been adamant in trying to minimise or remove wolf populations.

Such reactions hopefully take account of public support for wild species and public alarm at various aspects of the campaigns. Unfortunately, many other species could be involved, which is why this legal situation needs resolution quickly. The wolf may even become irrelevant, if the Grizzly bear, Caribou, Chinook salmon, the Oregon Silverspot or even those famous Utah valvata snails become "dispossessed" and are then so easily threatened by a small amount of success in breeding. Removal from the list implies at the moment that it is open season for the cowboys.

Top Image: Gray Wolf © Outdoorsman

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author


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