Should the Endangered Species Act Be Strengthened?
Most of us do not realize how much we take for granted, but there are some out there who feel as I do when it comes to strengthening the Endangered Species Act. This law is essential to present and future generations, although we may not realize it. Humankind is lucky to live in such a variety of ecosystems, but unfortunately, we all happen to leave some type of mark on the Earth and share in the destruction of many species, as well as their habitats. Timber companies cut down thousands of acres of natural forests for the wood and to make room for more many different uses of the land, such as agriculture or city expansion. Because of this many species have become endangered, or close to extinction from our hands. It is up to us to do what we can to stop the damage and to reverse what impacts we can. The purpose of this comparison essay is to establish points on both sides of this controversial issue, along with the support of professional opinions on of this issue from each viewpoint. The Endangered Species Act was signed in December 1973 by then, President Richard Nixon, and it replaced the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969. In the past thirty years, the ESA has protected endangered species of fish, plants, and wildlife. Some 1,950 species who are on the Endangered Species List have received protection from the ESA. Of those, 1,375 reside partly or fully within the United States. Because of this law, many species’ habitats were saved by destruction and degradation from human activities, such as logging, real estate and other industry development, mining, and global warming. “The Endangered Species Act is very important, because it save our native fish, plants, and wildlife from going extinct. Once a species are gone, there is no way to bring them back. Losing even a single species can have disastrous impacts on the rest of the ecosystem, because the effects will be felt throughout the food chain” (National Wildlife Federation, 1996). The purposes of the Endangered Species Act are to “provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved, to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered and threatened species, and to take such steps as may be appropriate to achieve the purposes of the international conservation treaties and conventions” (Czech & Krausman, 1997). “The ESA has a history of strict interpretation by the courts, and two ESA issues have become increasingly controversial: 1) the types of species that are listed, and 2) the limitations that the ESA impose on development projects, especially in the private sector” (Czech & Krausman, 1997).
“Bald eagles, gray whales, sea otters, and the gray wolves are among the thousands of species threatened by habitat loss” (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2009). Between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service (NOAA), which observes marine life, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages species on land and in freshwater, the rules and regulations of the Endangered Species Act are enforced. This can be a tough job watching over the various species and observing their habitats, while adding and removing new or recovered species to and from the Endangered Species List.
“In order for a species to be considered for listing, the species must meet one of the five criteria: 1) There is the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range, 2) An over utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes, 3) The species is declining due to disease or predation, 4) There is an inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, and 5) There are other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence” (National Wildlife Federation, 1996). Likewise, delisting a species is a long and difficult process. First the population numbers need...
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