Monday, August 3, 2015

Republican legislators are OK with murdering Cecil ...

... and OK with killing even more of his species. They express their vendetta against lions (and other endangered species) through their campaign to cut the the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) budget and gut the Endangered Species Act. By doing so, they make our country impotent in the face of threats from poaching in African countries. And these GOPlins act the way they do in spite of wide spread support for wildlife preservation even among their own voters.

From a report in The New Republic: here is the problem.

If Cecil were, say, an African elephant, the FWS would be able to take action regardless of the kill’s legality in Zimbabwe. But African lions are not protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), even though, according to the law’s criteria, they should be: A species need face only one of five existential threats, of which the lion meets several, including the "destruction, modification, or curtailment" of its natural habitat and "the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms." Seventy years ago, there were as many as 450,000 wild African lions. Today, there may be as few as 20,000. Those that remain live on an estimated 17 percent of their historic territory.

So why cannot this be fixed? Pause here, and take a breath and a guess.

It’s tempting to think that, had the FWS simply acted more quickly, Cecil would never have ended up on a Midwestern dentist’s mantle. But the bureaucratic backlog of the endangered species listing process cannot be understood outside of the context of a deliberate, years-long Republican campaign to prevent the FWS from doing its job. According to a study published Tuesday by the Center for Biological Diversity, the last four years have seen an "unprecedented Republican attack on endangered species," a coordinated rollback strategy fueled by special-interest lobbying and the right-wing’s broader war on environmental science. Compared to the previous 15 years, the study found a sixfold increase since 2011 in the number of legislative attempts to gut the ESA and hamper the FWS’ ability to apply its protections.

... It may be a coincidence that the Republican fixation with the ESA began the same year the African lion petition [for endangered status] was submitted, but even if Republican bullying didn’t contribute to the FWS’ delay in issuing a ruling, it will hinder other preventative action going forward. A GOP House appropriations bill submitted last month would cut more than 50 percent of the requested budget for the FWS’ overworked, undermanned foreign conservation division.

Back in June, [AZ CD3 Congressman Raul] Grijalva introduced the Rare Cats and Candids Act, which would fund foreign big-cat conservation projects. The bill’s unlikely to make it out of the Republican-led committee—despite the furor over Cecil’s death and the American public’s overwhelming support for protecting such species. One recent poll even found that 82 percent of self-identifying conservatives support the Endangered Species Act. As Grijalva says, "This country passionately supports endangered species conservation, and it deserves a Congress that feels the same."

Unfortunately, these days it does not matter what the country needs and deserves. Republicans in congress only deliver the goods to those who pay the bills, and "those" are not you and I. Equally unfortunately, our inability to behave rationally condemns other countries to suffer along with us. And that is why ever day brings the death of another Cecil or two and pushes that species ever closer to extinction.

No comments:

Post a Comment