The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is now itself endangered.
When I was a young teenager living in the country in Western Massachusetts, our female Collie occasionally brought home baby animals she’d “found”. She carried them carefully, as if they were puppies, plunking them on our lawn with questioning eyes and a wagging tail. Baby bunnies, squirrels, and even a raccoon were carried from the surrounding woods sometimes squealing but more often almost dead. The survivors were adopted and fed special animal formula from a doll’s bottle, usually by me, including night feedings. We would care for the animals in a cage in our house until they were strong and no longer babies, when they would graduate to a large cage placed on the edge of the surrounding woods. The next step was always release. One female rabbit refused to leave – for weeks she kept returning to play with the dog on the lawn where she’d been discovered. To me, animals seem more like cousins with their own intelligence and fears.
But the threat that exists in Congress to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) causes me grief not just because of the creatures who are treated as unimportant objects by those who would put their own financial welfare ahead of a thriving natural system, but because the ESA stands for so much more than mammals, birds or insects – it stands for habitat and diversity and the delicate balance of a system that humans must learn to respect and protect. The consequences of continuously raping the natural systems for commercial gain, sooner or later, will cause humans serious problems.
Dr. Dorothy Boorse of the Noah Alliance  testified before the Committee on Resources in Congress in June of 2005: “Conserving habitat is also vitally important for people. Pragmatically, we use resources from the environment that we will later wish we had treated better. Ecosystems services such as purifying water and air, or dampening floods and holding soil in place, are performed by natural systems and are impossible or extremely costly to replace with technology. In addition, healthy ecosystems protect species that are vital to agriculture, industries such as outdoor recreation, medicinal breakthroughs and even our own oxygen supplies”.
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is now itself endangered. A bill in the Senate cynically called “Collaboration and Recovery of Endangered Species Act” aimed at gutting the ESA, would create roadblocks and delays to listing endangered species, undermine recovery and eliminate Federal oversight of Endangered Species. The threat to the act has brought together diverse groups of sports fishermen, the religious groups in the Noah Alliance, recreational industries, environmentalists and scientists. But for victory over the Senate threat, voters must be heard before the end of March to counteract the strong industry lobbying groups and law firms that have written this legislation and promote it.
I admit it – I’m an animal lover. But way beyond that, I respect the balance of our natural systems, having lived close to them much of my life. The ESA must not be gutted to accommodate short-term economic interests. Just about everything depends on it!
The Noah Alliance is a new collaboration of Jewish, Evangelical, Protestant, and other religious community organizations, and individual people of faith, that are concerned about the protection of endangered species and biological diversity. http://www.noahalliance.org/index.htm