Local conservationists unhappy with changes to Endangered Species Act

Local conservationists unhappy with changes to Endangered Species Act

HIGH POINT, N.C. (WECT) - The Trump Administration announced new changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on Monday. Laws that have been in place for 45 years will now list endangered plant and animal species on a case-by-case basis.

The definition of “endangered” and “threatened” will no longer use the words “foreseeable future” which takes out the consideration of climate change when deciding whether or not to add a species to the list. The administration has also said they will start to contribute economic impacts into the adding or removal of species in the future.

“Science should never be dictated by anything other than X plus Y equals Z,” said Scott Shimp, director of rehabilitation at the Cape Fear Raptor Center. "Whereas, in the world of big business, development, economics there’s a lot of things that need to be taken into consideration of which the conservation of our natural resources is one of those.”

Conservationists like Shimp are struggling to put together the pieces after hearing about the new bill. Researchers say, to date, that the ESA has kept 99 percent of species from extinction, most recently the bald eagle was taken off the list entirely.

One of the fears is that big businesses and will use these changes as an excuse to start drilling, mining and developing on areas that have normally been protected, but will lose those privileges from the new ESA rules.

“It no longer becomes about what’s best for the species, but what’s best for industry, what’s best for business, what’s best for development of society," said Shimp. "Where we have responsibility to conserve our environment so that the next generations not only have the latest iPod or whatever their device may be, but that they also still get to enjoy the natural resources that we’ve been given the privileges to enjoy and the responsibility to guard.”

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