Research Paper: Endangered Species Act

Pages: 11 (3199 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Animals  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] With this kind of money, it is very important to ensure that the funds are being distributed property and that no malfeasance is occurring. Hill (1993) goes on to say that, "Taxonomic decisions not to list a species can result in the tragedy of a species' extinction; but poor taxonomic decisions inappropriately listing a species can result in a misallocation of limited resources" (page 239). With regard to finances, the state governments are supposed to take some of the economic burden of paying for these conservation programs. According to the 1973 Amendments to the legislation, the federal cost of a state's conservation program "may not exceed 75% of estimated costs, although it may be increased to 90% when two or more states have a common interest in a listed species and its conservation may be enhanced by the cooperation of the state" (1973). In a nation with a severe economic problem, as the United States currently has, setting aside federal monies to animals may seem like a less necessary provision than other laws.

Some of the negative consequences of the creation of the Endangered Species Act have included preemptive destruction of habitats by property owners who were concerned that the discovery of these animals would impact them financially. This scenario has become known as the "Shoot, Shovel, and Shut-Up" action (Dubner 2008). Another issue has been the conflict between a state's individual laws regarding endangered species and federal laws about the same thing.

Once placed on the Endangered Species List, an animal may be delisted. To achieve this, the threats to that species must be eliminated or controlled, population size and growth must have increased significantly, and the stability of their habitat must have increased in quality and quantity. Also, some species have been delisted when it was discovered that improper data collection had caused their inclusion in the first place. "Downlisting" may also occur where population has increased to the point where an animal is no longer in danger of extinction. These animals are reclassified from "endangered" to "threatened." Among these animals, the grey wolf has recently been delisted.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2007), before settlers arrived in the Midwest, wolves had a heavy population. North America has two species of wolves: the red and the grey, as well as their varying subspecies. These creatures served an important function in the ecosystem of the pre-human United States. Being predatory by nature, the wolves would prohibit the overpopulation of moose and deer. Their primary diet consists of ungulates which are large hoofed mammals such as elk, deer, moose, and caribou. However they have also been known to eat beaver, rabbits, and other smaller animals (Defenders 2011).

When the settlers began moving west, numbers of wild animals decreased because of competition from human hunters. Wolves had less to hunt in the wild but more food from the domesticated animals such as sheep and cattle that settlers brought into the areas. When these creatures became too much of a burden to farmers and ranchers, government policy, as well as personal policy for those who had lost livestock, was to diminish the wolf population. They were successful to the point that the grey wolves were almost hunted to extinction. Once placed on the Endangered Species List, federal agencies created a plan to restore the animal's population. Now there are more than 5,000 gray wolves in the continental United States. One of the things that the conservationists did to try to revitalize the population was take Canadian and Mexican gray wolves and release them into the wilds of the Rocky Mountains. These wolves were put through a pre-acclimation period before being introduced to the wild to ensure that they would survive and breed. The hope was that these wolves that had been raised in different terrains would be able to breed with wolves already in the area to create a stronger population. In January of 2009, it was declared that certain gray wolves would be removed from the Endangered Species List. This would include wolf populations in Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Utah, and Wisconsin. However, wolves in the state of Wyoming would still be protected (Burgess 2009). This would not remain the case.

After the 2009 ruling, several pro-conservation groups filed lawsuits against the federal government. In an article for the L.A. Times, reporter Matt Volz wrote that "they argued that the government's decision would have set a precedent allowing the government to arbitrarily choose which animals should be protected and where." In August of 2010, the gray wolf was reinstated to the Endangered Species List in Montana and Idaho. A federal judge ruled that the government's decision to remove the animals in the first place was a political one and not an environmental one. In both states, the fear of an overpopulation of the grey wolf had led to the creation of state-sanctioned wolf hunts with a cap of around one hundred. This meant that the state approved the hunting of nearly a hundred animals that until recently had been considered endangered or at the very least "at risk" (Volz 2010). Before the judge's decision, how to classify the grey wolf had been at the discretion of state agencies. Judge Donald Molloy stated that instead of state determination, the decision about how to classify an animal should be uniform throughout a region, in this case the Rocky Mountains. From now on, the wolves must be protected throughout the region or removed from each state's Endangered Species Lists. Opponents of the ruling are blaming the state of Wyoming for the decision. Since the state refuses to remove the grey wolf from their Endangered Species List, the rest of the states must deal with a creature that has become overpopulated.

This ruling put farmers and ranchers in Montana in the same position as the early settlers. Since the reintroduction of the wolves to the area and their surplus population, wolves have been preying on livestock. The owners of said livestock had the option to remove these predators from their private property. In 2009, 97 cattle and 202 sheep were killed by grey wolves in the state of Montana. An additional 75 cattle and 324 sheep were killed in Idaho. Carolyn Sime, wolf program coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks stated that after the 2010 ruling, they will no longer have the authority to kill grey wolves even on their own land. Wolves that kill human beings can still be killed in defense of the human population. In an article in the Washington Post, reporter Kari Lyderson wrote that the minimum population number for an endangered animal in the area to be relabeled to a "threatened" species is 300. Conservationists believe that allowing the grey wolf to be hunted in over-populated areas is a disguised effort to minimize their population from 5,000 back to this original number (2010). In reply to this assertion, Bob Ream, retired wildlife biology professor and member of Montana's wildlife advisory commission said, "You have to ask the question, how many is enough? There's no danger to wolf populations -- wolves are here to stay. I don't think any amount of hunting in Montana will eliminate them" (Lyderson 2010).

The question here becomes what needs to be done so that an animal that is still in danger in one location but has become a nuisance in another can balance out so that neither state suffers? It seems that since the original wolves that were introduced into the Rocky Mountains were not originally from that area, it would not be unheard of to transport their offspring. If the grey wolf has become too large in population size in the states of Montana and Idaho, then some of the overabundance can be moved to locations where the animals are less represented. This would seem like an ideal, if temporary, solution to the states' problems. The abundance in one location would be alleviated by the creatures being transported to a different location where the population number was not so large. The danger of this is that these wolves will mate with the grey wolf population already in Wyoming and that they will then have similar problems with overpopulation.

The ruling of the federal judge was that the states determination of the animals' placement on the listing or the animals delisting must be through state cooperation. It seems unlawful that state law which is supposed to determine the ruling of whether or not animals are placed on Endangered Species Lists can be superseded by a federal ruling. Both the states of Montana and Idaho are currently working on appeals to the finding of the federal judge on this very basis. If federal law is to determine the labeling and classification of beings in the case of one region, then they should be the authority for all regions. If this is not the case then the federal government needs to leave… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Endangered Species Act.  (2011, January 26).  Retrieved June 25, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Endangered Species Act."  26 January 2011.  Web.  25 June 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Endangered Species Act."  January 26, 2011.  Accessed June 25, 2019.