Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Who Let The Owls Out? Who? Who?

Nonendangered species taken off the endangered species list:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl will be removed from the endangered species list on May 15. Twenty or fewer of the birds are known to live in Arizona.

The decision to "delist" the owl was based on a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion, officials said, as well as science, policy and legal considerations. The service determined that the Arizona population of the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl does not contribute significantly to the species as a whole, which exists throughout Arizona, Texas and northern Mexico, said Benjamin Tuggle, acting regional director for the Southwest Region.


The court ordered the service to show that Arizona pygmy owls were of sufficient biological and ecological significance to the entire subspecies to qualify for listing as a distinct population segment. Service officials said they were unable to do so, largely because sufficient numbers of the owls are believed to live in Mexico.

The Pleistocene Liberation Organization is not happy:

But the Center for Biological Diversity said that the battle isn't over.

"The longer they drag their feet, the more they fight against the public interest, the harder it's going to be to do the right thing because I don't think people are going to say it's acceptable for the pygmy owl to go extinct in Arizona . The government seems to be saying that, some developers may say that, most people I don't think support that," said Daniel Patterson, from the Center for Biological Diversity.

Not mentioned in either article is evidence that the species does not share the spotted owl's ability to coexist with human real estate development.

Do the ecoweenies have legal standing? For those of you who brought your copy of the Endangered Species Act, turn to Section 3, Article 15 (emphasis added):

The term "species" includes any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species or vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.

Sadly, this section which covers definitions does not tell us precisely what a "distinct population segment" is. Does a few birds living around Tucson fit the definition?

If the ESA should exist at all, it should protect entire species. If a species is plentiful in one place but rare in another, there's no need for alarm.

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