Report Finds Endangered Species Act Failing

Over the first two decades the U.S. Endangered Species Act was in effect, from 1973 to 1994, 114 species went extinct or missing, “sacrificed to bureaucratic inertia, political meddling, and lack of leadership,” said Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity, which released a report on the ESA yesterday. Suckling said the species could have been saved if the act had been “properly managed, fully funded, and shielded from political pressure.” The report documents a history of problems under numerous administrations, but the center reserved its harshest criticism for the current Bush administration, saying it has added an average of only nine species a year to the federal list of threatened and endangered species, considerably fewer than any previous administration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which implements the ESA, decried the idea that it had knowingly allowed any species to go extinct and claimed that the real source of troubles was constant lawsuits from enviro groups over critical habitat, which drain money away from the listing budget.