lect 447 - wildlife

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Conservation and the Endangered
          Species Act
              What is biodiversity?

• How can we define it?

• How do we value it?
                What is biodiversity?

• “The range or number of species or subspecies found
  in a particular area.”

• More recently, ecologists have broadened the
  definition so that we take into consideration things
  like ecosystem function and the value of ecosystem
           Biodiversity Loss and Extinction

• Species extinctions occur naturally but humans have greatly accelerated the
  process over the last few centuries.

   “Over the past half-billion years, the planet lost perhaps one species per
   million species each year, including everything from mammals to plants.
   Today, the annual rate of extinction is 1,000 to 10,000 times faster. If
   nothing more is done, one-fifth of all the plant and animal species now on
   earth could be gone or on the road to extinction by 2030. Being distracted
   and self-absorbed, as is our nature, we have not yet fully understood what
   we are doing. But future generations, with endless time to reflect, will
   understand it all, and in painful detail. As awareness grows, so will their
   sense of loss. There will be thousands of ivory-billed woodpeckers to think
   about in the centuries and millenniums to come.”

                                                     E.O. Wilson
Q.   Why are we concerned with the
     destruction of a resource that has little
     obvious economic value?

A.   Loss of biodiversity has several
            Consequences of biodiversity loss
1)   Ecosystems are undermined when plant and animal species are destroyed.

     “The stability of ecosystems . . . is often enhanced by the diversity of organisms they

2)   Untried sources of food, fuel, fiber, or medicine are eliminated.

     “It is known that at least 75,000 species of plants have edible parts, yet the world
     relies almost entirely on about 30 plant species for its food supply.”

3)   Human appreciation and understanding of nature are diminished.

     “This ethical argument centers on the rights of nonhuman entities merely to exist,
     regardless of any usefulness to humans.”

     Neo-Darwinians’ provide an interesting counter argument (“We should feel no guilt
     about species extinction because it is a natural process, and we should not have to
     keep rare species alive at great cost to human society.”)

4)   It is feared that removal of key species could cause a chain reaction leading to
• Biological diversity or biodiversity has been reduced
  through the destruction and simplification of natural

      Destruction - e.g., urban sprawl occurs at the
      expense of fields, forests, marshlands, etc.

      Simplification - e.g., farming and forest
      cultivation produce single-crop patterns over
      broad areas
     Causes of Biodiversity Loss - HIPPO
Habitat Destruction - Hawaii’s forests, for example, have been three-
     fourths cleared, with the unavoidable decline and extinction of
     many species.

Invasive Species – Ants, pigs, and other aliens displace the native
     Hawaiian species.

Pollution – Fresh water, marine coastal water, and the soil of the
      islands are contaminated, weakening and erasing more species.

Population – More people means more of all the other HIPPO effects.

Overharvesting – Some species, especially birds, were hunted to rarity
    and extinction during the early Polynesian occupation.

                                                           E.O. Wilson 2002, 50
        “Wasty Ways”: Stories of American
           Settlement by Alan Taylor
According to Taylor, a tripartite structure characterizes
our environmental narratives:

initial abundance
                    + transforming humans
                                     = a legacy of diminished nature

He argues, however, that “By making so much of settlers’ power over nature,
. . . our environmental narratives make too little of settlers’ initial weakness
and suffering.”

“Only by restoring settlers’ fears and sufferings can we adequately explain the
excesses of their assault upon nature.”
          Hardships and Dangers in
     Upstate New York (Otsego) ca. 1780s

• Most of these early settlers came from poor families

• wilderness was threatening and unproductive

• exposed to the “raw power of nature’s extremes”

• hunger and disease were constant threats
“At the end of the eighteenth century, upstate New York was
abundantly endowed with the wild life that settlers needed to
subdue. A heavy, tangled forest of large oak, beech, maple,
chestnut, pine, and hemlock trees covered the hills and
sheltered numerous carnivorous mammals – bears, panthers,
and wolves – who threatened the domesticated livestock and
plants introduced by the settlers.”

Ignoring signs of prior Indian use, settlers sought to transform
“a nature they called wilderness” into “another nature called
• Otsego settlers’ Protestant Christian faith
  taught that conquering the forest (including its
  wild animals) was a service to God.

• They sought to amass property and secure
  material comfort, social respectability, political
                  Devastating the Forest
• Swelling numbers and persistence eventually gave settlers the
  upper hand.

• “They then assailed the wild plant and animal life with a
  vengeance born, in part, from the memory of their recent

• Larger animals (beavers, deer, bears, panthers, wolves) wiped
  out quickly. Deforestation eventually affected fish populations.

• “In 1850, an old hunter in upstate New York calculated that in
  his lifetime he had killed 77 panthers, 214 wolves, 219 bears,
  and 2,250 deer.”
• Group hunts were particularly devastating.

• Wiping out the predators exposed grain crops to
  burgeoning populations of chipmunks and squirrels
  and other small creatures.

• Two hunting parties (18 men each) in 1807 competed
  to see which could kill the most animals. The
  “winning” party killed 1,540 squirrels and one bear.
  The “losing” party bagged 828 squirrels and one
“In this vast tract of country no deer, or other useful animal or
next to none exist; and scarce a living creature is to be seen.
Thus has a country, once abounding in animated nature, for
want of Laws to protect, or sense in the people to kill with
moderation and in seasonable times, in the short space of 20
years become still as death.”

                            - William Strickland, 1794

Susan Fenimore Cooper and the story of the last deer in the
vicinity of Cooperstown, New York ca. 1840.
  Strategies for Conservation of Biodiversity

• Species Protection
  To protect threatened and endangered species at the
  species level (such as prohibiting killing and trading of
  endangered species, captive breeding programs, etc.).

• Habitat Conservation
  To protect species’ habitats, those areas best suited to
  species’ needs. This is a more recent trend.
      Habitat conservation has a long history
                  in the U.S. . . .

• 1900 - In response to the
  decimation of birds used for their
  feathers in the hat trade, Congress
  passed the Lacey Act, prohibiting
  interstate and international trade in
  illegally taken wildlife.

• 1903 –Pelican Island NWR
  established to protect herons and
  egrets. T.R. established 50 refuges
  during his tenure in office. At
  present there are 535 units across
  the country with at least one in
  each state. Administered by FWS
  (1940), the NWR system is tasked
  with providing sanctuaries for
  threatened and endangered species
  of plants and animals.
• 1914 - The last passenger pigeon (Martha) dies in captivity in
  a Cincinnati zoo.

• 1918 - Migratory Bird Treaty Act passed – Act protected
  migratory birds from excessive hunting, selling, and shipping
  between the United States, Canada, and, later, Mexico.

• 1936 – National Wildlife Federation founded. Goal was to
  conserve fish, wildlife, and other natural resources and to
  lobby for legislation to conserve wildlife.
• 1937 – Congress passed Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to
  provide federal aid to states to restore and manage wildlife and acquire
  wildlife habitat.

• 1951 – Nature Conservancy founded as citizens’ organization dedicated to
  purchasing and protecting habitats of plants, animals, and natural
  communities that represent the diversity of life on earth.

• 1973 – Endangered Species Act passed. Gave authority to list threatened
  and endangered species and to protect their vital habitat. The subject of
  intense controversy and conflict over resource development, the law has
  nevertheless been repeatedly extended.

• 1973 – CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).

• 1978 – Endangered American Wilderness Act passed. Designated lands in
  the western states were added to the National Wilderness Preservation
  System to increase watershed, wildlife habitat, and scenic and historic
The Endangered Species Act . . .
• Passed in 1973, this is the most comprehensive piece of legislation
  protecting flora and fauna

• ESA requires that the DOI and National Marine Fisheries Service identify
  threatened and endangered species

• ESA requires DOI and Department of Commerce to delineate habitats of
  threatened and endangered species and to map these critical areas which are
  a prerequisite for species survival

• ESA forbids destruction of critical habitat as a result of dam building,
  highway construction, housing developments, or projects supported in
  whole or in part by the federal monies
                                                 Percina tanasi (kids.yahoo.com)

• Tellico Dam controversy produced amendments to the Act in 1978
  (“A major project can go ahead if it can be shown clearly that the
  benefits of the project outweigh and overshadow the species
  preservation issue.”)
• Exceptions to the ESA can be granted by 6 high-ranking federal
  government officials (cabinet and sub-cabinet) plus one state official (“The
  God Committee”).

• As of October 2008, 39 species have been delisted (14 due to recovery, 9
  due to extinction, 16 due to incorrect data). Twenty-three have been
  downlisted to threatened.
               Politics and the ESA

                            “I voted for the Endangered
• Reagan Administration     Species Act when I was in
                            Congress, but I was thinking of
  was not friendly to       saving tigers and elephants and
  endangered species        rhinoceroses and these kinds of
  legislation               animals. I wasn’t thinking of the
                            mess we were going to get into
                            with it.”
• Resisted inclusion of
  new species for listing           - Manuel Lujan, Jr.
                                    (Secretary of Interior
                                    under President Reagan)
             Politics and the ESA (Cont’d)

• Act renewed in 1988

• Controversy continued with spotted owl
  and marbled murrelet in Pacific Northwest

• Courts sided with environmentalists and
  logging was curtailed on Forest Service

• Republican Congress of 1994 came in with
  idea of reforming ESA and restoring
  “rights” of private landowners to manage
  their land without interference from the
• In April 1995, Congress placed a moratorium on new listings.

• The moratorium was lifted by court order in May 1996.

• During Bill Clinton’s second term as president, he shifted
  gears a bit. Rather than enforce the ESA to the full letter of
  the law, he sought to strike a compromise.

• He ushered in the era of the Habitat Conservation Plan.
                         The Latest Trend
• Especially in areas of rapid suburban development, trend in recent years was
  to develop habitat conservation plans rather than strictly enforce the law.

• Essentially, city and county officials, builders, state, and FWS personnel get
  together and work out a compromise, deciding where development will
  occur and where habitat will be preserved.

• Here’s how it works: If a landowner’s proposed project could potentially
  have an adverse effect on a threatened or endangered species, then he or she
  must apply for incidental take permit. A habitat conservation plan (HCP)
  must accompany application for incidental take permit.

• The idea is to allow private landowners to develop some land in exchange
  for conserving other pieces of property.
                  The Latest Trend

• By 1992, only 14 HCPs had been approved. By 1999,
  this number had risen to 290. By 2006, more than 430
  HCPs had been approved.

• The success of these compromises will not be known for
  years (the duration of some plans is 30-50 years) but it
  seems to be the wave of the future, for better or worse.

• We’ll look at a couple of case studies that I hope will
  illuminate the complex nature of the resource problems
  as well as the complex nature of the plans.
          But First . . . A Few More Definitions
•   Endangered - Any species in danger of extinction throughout all or most of its range
    and “listed” as such under the Endangered Species Act. As of October 2008, 450
    animals and 600 plant species in the U.S. are listed as endangered.

•   Threatened - Any species likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.
    As of October 2008, 163 animals and 144 plants were listed as threatened.

•   Take -To harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect a
    listed species, or attempt to do so. Significant change to a species’ habitat is also
    considered a take.

•   Incidental Take - Take is considered “incidental” when it is “not the purpose of . . . an
    otherwise lawful activity,” like construction or logging.

•   Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) - A required part of a private landowner’s
    application for an “incidental take” permit. A habitat conservation plan is intended to
    offset the impact of incidental take on the endangered species. For example, a
    landowner may be granted an incidental take permit to develop 100 acres of
    endangered species habitat, but the HCP may require him or her to pay a tax that
    would help to purchase and preserve a block of similar habitat. HCPs are permitted
    under a 1982 amendment to the Endangered Species Act.
      A few other key concepts and terms:
• Intrinsic value in nature implies that its worth is independent of
  its utility to humans; instrumental value implies that its worth
  depends on its ability to serve a human end.

• “Is it good?” is a question of intrinsic value; “What is it good
  for?” is a question of instrumental value.

• An anthropocentric ethic is suggested in situations where people
  value nature instrumentally, as a means to human material,
  aesthetic, or other ends. Nonanthropocentric ethics, in contrast,
  are those in which people primarily value nature intrinsically,
  without reference to human ends. Biocentrism and ecocentrism
  are different forms of nonanthropocentric ethics.

                                              (Proctor 1996)
                 Dave Foreman

“The grizzly has a right to live for her own sake, not
for any real or imagined value she may have for
human beings. The spotted owl, the wolverine,
Brewer’s spruce, the fungal web on the forest floor
have a nature-given right to follow their own
intertwined evolutionary destinies without being
meaningless pawns in the arrogant games of
industrial humans. What right does a man with a
lifespan of seventy years have to destroy a two-
thousand-year-old redwood to make picnic tables?”
                  Aldo Leopold

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce
green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have
known ever since, that there was something new o me
in those eyes – something known only to her and the
mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I
thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer,
that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But
after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the
wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”
           Edward O. Wilson

“To evaluate individual species solely by their
known practical value at the present time is
business accounting in the service of
Two HCP Case Studies
Chinook Salmon
            Case Study No. 1 - Cedar River HCP
• Chinook or “king” salmon has declined in
  numbers over past 25 years. Number caught
  in Washington fisheries dropped 96% over
  this time, from 560,000 to 23,000. In Puget
  Sound, numbers have dropped by 70%.

• About 40 minutes southeast of Seattle in
  Cedar Falls, WA, the Cedar River makes its
  way to Pacific. City owns 90,546 acres in
  the watershed. Part of the river diverted by
  Seattle Public utilities to Seattle’s residents
  for drinking water supply.

• Cedar River also habitat for the Chinook
  salmon which was listed as threatened under
  the ESA a few years ago.

• A HCP (Cedar River Habitat Conservation
  Plan) was developed and approved in 2000.
  Seattle now has to obey a set of rules about
  how much water to leave in river for fish
  habitat. They have even banned logging to
  protect the waters.
          Case Study No. 1 - Cedar River HCP
• The plan drawn up by Mayor Schell and Seattle City Council received wide
  support from residents.

• Opponents warned of higher water bills and sewer bills.

• Seattle Times: “Would you rather chop down 65,000 trees a year or add the
  equivalent of a tall latte to your yearly water bill?”

• The 50-year plan calls for withdrawing 150 million gallons of water per day
  (35% of the river’s flow). This is down from original 300 million gallons first
  proposed (the city’s historic claim).

• Environmentalists and Indian tribes (who have fishing rights) want to see
  consumption remain at current levels - about 105 million gallons per day.

• Experts say we don’t know enough about the chinook in the Cedar River to
  know if the flow regime will be enough to help the species recover. (The
  Chinook was listed after work on the plan had begun.)

• Now that agreement is signed, it will be hard to change in-stream flows over the
  next 50 years.
Plan is designed to protect not only the salmon, but
several other threatened species as well:

Grizzly bear
Bald eagle
Canada lynx
Marbled murrelet
Northern spotted owl
Bull trout
Gray wolf
Cactus Ferruginous
   Pygmy Owl
  Case Study No. 2 – The Sonoran Desert HCP
• Cactus ferruginous pygmy owl measures seven inches from beak to tail and
  is the second smallest owl in North America (second to the elf owl).

• Spends most of its time in desert oases and often nests in the saguaro cactus.
  It survives in southern Arizona, southern Texas, northwestern Mexico.

• There have been approximately 165 sightings of the bird between 1872 and
  1997. It was common bird in region until damming and overpumping
  destroyed most of bird’s riverine habitat.

• U.S. FWS listed it as endangered in 1997; a recent survey estimates that
  there are just 78 birds left.

• About 30 miles northwest of Tucson is the Redhawk subdivision
  (“Deadhawk” according to environmentalists). Approximately 9000 acres
  have been cleared for homes and golf courses.

• Bulldozers fell silent when reddish brown pygmy owl spotted on
  construction site.
    Case Study No. 2 – The Sonoran Desert HCP
•   Tucson growing by leaps and bounds. Population in 2000 was 823,000; 400,000 more
    expected over the next 20 years. Signs beckon “Come grow with us.”

•   A HCP (Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan) is being developed for this area which, in
    theory, would protect the owl plus 17 other threatened and endangered species. It is
    an enormous county-wide endeavor.

•   A Pima County administrator has recommended the county purchase 400,000 acres of
    private land northwest of Tucson to protect the owl and other endangered species and
    stop rezoning land for development until the HCP is completed.

•   The plan would identify the least sensitive areas where development could take place,
    while preserving other parcels.

•   Land that has already been zoned for development may result in 12,000 houses going
    in before the plan is complete, however.

•   Should the area be protected? Not according to the former governor (Jane Hull) or to
    private landowners who are complaining about “takings.”