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Science, Not Politics

1,293 American scientists sent a letter last week to the U.S. Senate, urging the senators to reject any endangered species legislation that is based on politics rather than science, reports Scientific American

gray wolfThe letter was written at this time due to recent political moves to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list. If Congress passed the resolution with the gray wolf provision, it would be the first time a species was delisted without the benefit of scientific analysis, writes the Union of Concerned Scientists

The letter stated that Congress is flouting an Endangered Species Act section that calls for any decisions to add or remove a species from the Act to be made solely on the best available science. Not politics.

“Allowing Congress to remove or add protections for particular species would set a dangerous precedent, as the fate of every species on the endangered species list (or any candidate for that list) would then be subject to political interference,” the letter states.

The scientists are concerned that if political forces are allowed to pressure Congress to circumvent this process for one species, then the entire system is compromised.

Aside from the gray wolf, legislation has been introduced that would remove endangered species from the list after 15 years if no substantial population increase could be demonstrated.

Congress lacks the scientific background to evaluate the ecology, population dynamics and extinction risk for individual species. Thus, unfortunate decisions could be made that negatively impact endangered animal species.

Hopefully Congress will listen to the scientists.

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Alison Wheatley

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