(Columbus) – The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), the nation’s premier organization in defense of hunting, fishing, and scientific wildlife management, has again been asked by federal lawmakers to weigh in on problems with the Endangered Species Act.
United States Rep. Nick Rahall, D-West Virginia, scheduled a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee on May 9 to investigate the implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The hearing has been titled, “ESA, Science or Politics?”
Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the ranking minority member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Henry Brown, R-South Carolina, ranking minority member of the Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee, have invited USSA Director of Federal Affairs William Horn to provide testimony.
Horn will provide the sportsmen’s perspective, and will draw from his experience as the former Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks during the 1980s. He will be one of two witnesses invited to the hearing by Republican leaders.
Horn will explain that the ESA’s “sloppy language” allows decisions that are based on sound scientific data to be challenged in court.
For example, in February, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed the abundant Western Great Lakes population of gray wolves from the endangered list. It determined that recovery efforts have been successful and the animals are no longer threatened. In late April, animal rights groups filed a federal lawsuit against the service, challenging the scientifically established delisting. The ESA’s vague language allows a judge to decide the agency’s authority to delist the wolves.
“Animal activists are not interested in species recovery,” said Rick Story, USSA senior vice president. “They want to use the ESA as a tool to force a hands-off approach for animals. The USSA is working to ensure that science will prevail over politics.”
Horn and the USSA are also taking the Interior Department to task for its proposal to list polar bears as threatened despite their growing numbers.
The department proposed the listing after several environmental groups threatened to sue the government. If the Fish and Wildlife Service does list the polar bear as threatened, polar bear research and conservation dollars will be eliminated because hunting programs that fund the efforts will be prohibited. The Canadian government and the state of Alaska also oppose the listing.
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organization that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website, www.ussportsmen.org.