ESA: Flawed Law

Posted on Freedom Advocates on April 28th 2003 

By [post_author] –

Summary: The ESA has become a most effective tool in the hands of the preservationists and those intent on destroying the livelihoods of millions of Americans. T. R. Mader, Research Director for the Abundant Wildlife Society of North America tells how and offers solutions.

Few Species Saved
Millions Spent
Thousands of Jobs Lost

We believe care and concern for the environment and our wildlife is important. Due to that importance, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed into law with the best of intentions – to save endangered species of animals and plants from extinction.

Unfortunately, it’s had little success.

However, the ESA has become a most effective tool in the hands of the preservationists and those intent on destroying the livelihoods of millions of Americans.


  • The desert tortoise is listed on the (ESA) when there are an estimated 3 million tortoises in the desert and another 100,000 in captivity?
  • Government reports stated the decline of the desert tortoise was due to raven predation? They stated, “Raven predation will be to the extirpation [total extermination] of the tortoise population.” The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decided to kill 1500 ravens. An environmental group immediately sued the BLM. The BLM settled out of court and agreed to kill only 56 ravens providing it could be shown that the ravens killed were “habitually preying on tortoises.”
  • A pond weed, which was found on private land in Texas, was petitioned for listing on the ESA without the knowledge of the land owner. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) workers simply trespassed to conduct their research studies.
  • A snail prevented a retired veteran in Kanab, Utah from building a recreational vehicle park and tourist site on his own property? The FWS alleged an endangered snail (kanab amber snail) was found on his property. An “emergency” listing of the snail was obtained. The veteran was told he could not use his property and has no option but to sell it to the government.
  • Shrimpers in the gulf coast states of Texas and Louisiana are being harassed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) over a non-native sea turtle? Yes, that’s right, the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle does not nest in the United States, but in Mexico. Government biologists bring the eggs to the U.S., hatch them in Texas and release them in the Gulf of Mexico. The NMFS has conducted over 1,100 indiscriminate searches of shrimpers’ boats under the guise of turtle protection. Not one turtle has been found on these boats. Fines for not having a Turtle Excluding Device (TED) range from $8000 to $25,000.
  • A $240 million ($240,000,000) dollar world class telescope was stopped by a small squirrel? The University of Arizona wanted to build this observatory on Mount Graham in southeastern Arizona, but the Mount Graham red squirrel (genetically a common red squirrel) is listed as endangered on the ESA. It was claimed that if the telescope was built, the squirrel would become fixated with human activity, forget to collect nuts and fall prey to the goshawk.
  • The sockeye salmon is listed as endangered on the Colombia, Snake and Salmon Rivers? This ESA listing affects 900 miles of rivers systems. This recovery program will cost between $200 million and $1 billion dollars in the next five years – a price to be paid by electricity ratepayers, farmers, river operators and commercial fishermen.
  • The Clarkea Australia, a small one to two inch high plant, has shut down logging in parts of California? It’s not because the plant is in the logging areas per se, but because the jobs were located in areas where the Forest Service said there “might” be Clarkea Australia. Mind you, this tenacious little plant will grow in skidder tracks, but that doesn’t matter.
  • The USFWS spent over $102 million in fiscal year 1990 on threatened and endangered species? The 10 species with the highest reported expenditures were:
    northern spotted owl $9.7 million
    least bell’s vireo [small, green bird similar to the warbler] $9.2 million
    grizzly bear $5.9 million
    red cockaded woodpecker $5.2 million
    Florida panther $4.1 million
    Mojave desert tortoise $4.1 million
    bald eagle $3.5 million
    ocelot $3 million
    jaguarundi [slender, short-legged wildcat] $2.9 million
    American Peregrine falcon 2.9 million

    The highest costing bug was the valley elderberry longhorn beetle ($952,000) and the highest plant was the northern wild monkshood ($226,000). Note: These figures are not the total cost, only what can be itemized by species.

  • The snail darter, which was used to hold up construction of Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Tellico Dam, was known to exist in other areas and yet the FWS listed it on the ESA, claiming it was nearly extinct?
  • Four trash fish in Colorado – the squawfish, two types of Chub and a sucker, which, until a few years ago were poisoned by the USFWS, are now listed on the ESA? Their recovery is estimated to cost $60 million dollars and impacts costs are over $650,000,000. Meanwhile, in the state of Washington, anglers are paid $3 by the USFWS for every squawfish caught that measures over 11 inches.
  • Two California condors were released in January 1992? What did recovery cost? Nearly 30 years preparation and $25 million dollars!
  • A Texas man killed an endangered whooping crane and was imprisoned for six months and fined over $200,000?
  • A Maryland couple could not prevent erosion to their home, which was built on a 60 foot cliff overlooking Chesapeake Bay, because it might harm a bug? That’s right – the Puritan Tiger Beetle to be exact. An official from the Maryland Natural Heritage Program stated that protecting bug habitat was more important than protecting the couple’s home. A letter to the governor changed nothing, the beetle’s rights came first!
  • A $100,000,000 golf course and resort complex was stopped by a butterfly – the Oregon silverspot butterfly? A man sought to turn a fenced cow pasture and an area strewn with beer cans and vehicle tracks on the Oregon coast into a world class golf course. To help save the butterfly, he met with USFWS personnel and even hired a butterfly expert. To no avail. Construction could not be done unless the man could guarantee he could build the golf course without killing a single endangered silverspot butterfly.
  • The USFWS wants to save hybrid animals? Examples are the dusky seaside sparrow. When efforts (costing millions of dollars) failed to save the sparrow, a hybrid program was tried. It failed. The red wolf (a hybrid cross between the grey wolf and coyote) is another example. > government officials designated 6.9 million acres of forest in the Pacific Northwest to be set aside for the spotted owl? (Nine million acres larger than the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island combined.) The government’s estimate of job loss is 33,000 jobs. Private sources say 60,000 jobs is more accurate. Additionally, landowners of some three million acres in the Pacific Northwest were told they could not harvest timber on their own land due to the presence of the northern spotted owl, even though seven million acres of wilderness already exists for the owl.
  • An elderly couple in Georgia, needing money for medical expenses, sought to sell timber on their private land only to be stopped by a bird, the red cockaded woodpecker? No, the bird doesn’t live on their land, but FWS and Georgia Forestry Commission officials reportedly found 17 trees with “possible” abandoned red cockaded woodpecker nests. Nobody, including the FWS, has ever seen this woodpecker on the property. And the family has lived there for 80 years. Nonetheless, a temporary ban on timber harvest was imposed.
  • The Colombia white-tailed deer has been listed as endangered for years and millions have been spent on its recovery? Studies reveal that the deer is “genetically a plain jane whitetail deer.”
  • The difference between the California spotted owl and northern spotted owl? Neither do we! Both are genetically the same bird, yet the northern spotted owl is listed as endangered.
  • In spite of the best intentions and million upon millions of dollars spent, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a dismal failure, in terms of species recovery?
  • That of the 600 species listed on the ESA, over half are listed in the eastern half of the U.S.? What does the future hold for the east? The Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been used to:
    1. Lock up vast areas of land from commodity use, i.e. the northern spotted owl used to shut down timber harvest in the Pacific Northwest.
    2. Deprive an individual of their constitutional right of protection of private property, i.e. threat of $100,000 fine and mandatory prison sentence for killing an endangered wolf killing ones’ livestock.
    3. Deprive one of their property without just compensation, i.e. restriction on use and/or acquisition of land as critical habitat for endangered species.

The following changes, in order to bring balance and to put the human factor back into the ESA, are necessary:

  1. Use only a biological and numerical definition of endangered species.Biological Definition: Only pure species can be listed. No listing based solely upon sub-species, distinct populations or hybridization.Problem Example: In 1944, Stanley Young and Edward Goldman listed 24 sub-species of the gray wolf. Today biologists feel there are no more than 5 sub-species of the gray wolf. Even these 5 sub-species should be viewed with caution as the biologists cannot tell them apart. The same can be said of the northern spotted owl and California spotted owl.Numerical Definition: Only those species actually threatened with extinction (very few animals) can be listed.Problem Example: The gray wolf population of North America numbers between 40,000 and 60,000 wolves. Due to national boundaries and “distinct populations” listings, wolves in Alaska and Canada are not considered in wolf population counts. Thus, the wolf, while in no danger of extinction, is “endangered” throughout the continental U.S., with the exception of Minnesota where it is listed as threatened. The same problem exists with bald eagles and grizzly bears (note: there are over 40,000 grizzlies in North America)
  2. The socio-economic impacts of a listing must be considered. The current law makes no such consideration.Problem Example: Land values in an area of Texas fell an estimated $300 million dollars due to an ESA listing of a songbird – the golden-cheeked warbler.Also, the impacts of spotted owl listing on the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest. The Wall Street Journal reported a 25% cost increase in wood products which was directly related to the listing of the spotted owl. Thus, the nation, not just loggers, is impacted by the ESA listing of the spotted owl.
  3. There must be just compensation on any taking of private property. The constitutional rights of citizens must be protected.
  4. Individuals must have the right to protect their livelihoods and control endangered species threatening their livelihoods.Problem Example: Endangered wolves, grizzly bears or eagles killing livestock cannot be killed by the owner of the livestock. A federal judge has ruled that a person does not have the constitutional right to protect their property from an endangered species. In 1990, over 7,500 sheep and lambs were killed by eagles in the states of Wyoming, Montana and Colorado alone.
  5. The ESA must recognize that extinction is a normal part of the natural evolutionary process. The fossil record makes this abundantly clear. Failure to recognize this phenomenon will result in wasting expertise and money on recovery programs doomed to failure by this natural process while people lose their jobs and go hungry.
  6. Time and Expenditure limits must be placed on studies and recovery plans. The American taxpayer is entitled to fiscal responsibility of government agencies directed to saving endangered species.Problem Example: In 1990, figures released on the Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico revealed that the whooping crane recovery had more than one million ($1,000,000) in each bird.
  7. Accountability must be required of government agencies charged with saving endangered species. This is in two areas:
    1. Standards must be set for best scientific and commercial data.
    2. Agency personnel must work with the average citizen and not against them.

Prepared by: T. R. Mader, Research Director

Abundant Wildlife Society of North America

WE NEED YOUR HELP! The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is up for reauthorization. Help spread the word! Photocopy this information and give it to your national and state legislators, friends, students, teachers, media people, game biologists, and others. Write articles and letters to the editor and expose the problems with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the need for change.

Is the ESA impacting your area? Write us with the information and we’ll get the word out for you. ABUNDANT WILDLIFE SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA will do it with your help.

ABUNDANT WILDLIFE SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA is a unique and distinctly different wildlife organization. ABUNDANT WILDLIFE SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA advocates Conservation – the management of wildlife by man instead of Environmentalism – the cyclic “balance of nature” also know as feast and famine.


For more information, contact:
Abundant Wildlife Society of North America
PO Box 2
Beresford, SD 57004

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