This is from Slate Magazine.

Listing polar bears under the Endangered Species Act won’t do much good, but we should do it anyway. By Holly Doremus

Update (more). Here is more on the Administration’s footdragging on listing the polar bear. The Latest Environmental Victims: The Polar Bear and the Sage Grouse. The Board, a blog by the editorial writers of the New York Times.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

16 Responses to Listing polar bears under the Endangered Species Act won't do much good, but we should do it anyway

  1. avatar JB says:

    “…Listing of the charismatic polar bear might increase political support for new regulatory measures. The polar bear faces other threats that the ESA is better suited to address, such as the impacts of oil exploration and production activities. Listing will add a legal weapon for combating arctic oil development.”

    Which are the very reasons why Kempthorne is dragging his feat.

  2. avatar mikarooni says:

    Given the perversions that happened in Florida in November of 2000 and in Ohio in November of 2004, casting a vote in this November’s election and expecting it to be properly and legitimately counted won’t do much good either; but, we should do it anyway.

  3. avatar Monte says:

    Listing species to secure political gain in other areas is just the type of thing that gives well meaning enviros a bad name. This type of tactic will not help polar bears and will just encourage your opposition. The continued hunting of polar bears in limited numbers ensures that they are highly valued, well managed, and are an important financial resource for natives. Let sport hunters work their conservation magic for polar bears and you will not be dissappointed with the results. Sport hunters have a long track record of success in conserving the species’ they value. As for oil drilling, debate that issue directly.

  4. avatar Chris H. says:

    Yeah, we need to “manage” polar bears. We can’t even “manage” ourselves!

  5. avatar mikarooni says:

    “Let sport hunters work their conservation magic?” “Let sport hunters work their conservation magic?” “Let sport hunters work their conservation magic?” That’s such a psychotic crock that I don’t even know where to begin to respond. I think I’m going to vomit.

  6. avatar cred says:

    Monte’s point is well taken. Listing an animal which is not endangered will ultimately be the basis for destruction of the ESA. Twisting laws for political and/or financial gain is a bad idea, no matter who’s doing it and for what reason. I’d suggest that such misapplication of laws is the basis for most, if not all, of our legal and environmental problems in the USA today.

  7. Monte, Cred and Chris,

    You might address the article. The article says and gives reasons why the polar bear meets the criteria for listing, and so it concludes because the criteria are met they should be listed.

    They might be wrong, but they do not argue as Cred says that some beneficial (in their view) twisting of the ESA is needed. Slate Magazine argues the bear should be listed precisely because it meets the standard criteria of the ESA.

    Monte, are sports hunters helping the polar bear at the present? Yes, sometimes hunters build support for a species, but do you think pubic support for the polar bear is weak and needs hunter support? I don’t, it’s clearly an iconic species. Children 4 years old know about polar bears.

    Chris, the word “manage” has been thrown around so much by politicians lately, that it doesn’t seem to mean anythiing anymore . . . . just close your eyes and guess what they mean!

  8. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    the ironic thing is that i remember the bush administration touting its consideration for the polar bear in the media a few months back …

  9. Listing the polar bear pits conservationists agains the biggest lobby in Washington. I can not see it happening. This isn’t even my usual cynical self talking. It’s just too far-fetched.

  10. avatar cred says:

    Ralph: I am addressing the article. The author says the polar bear should be listed in order to address Arctic oil development. As I said, using ESA to address other issues that are not ESA issues is a bad idea, for the reasons I gave.

    Additionally, to list any species because it *might* become extinct, particularly when it would be attributed to global changes, means that every species on the planet should be listed under ESA – clearly a situation which would render the ESA totally ineffectual. Listing the polar bear is a step down the path to the end of the ESA.

  11. avatar mikarooni says:

    “Listing the polar bear is a step down the path to the end of the ESA.” Now, there you go again, trying to get us to drink that Katron Kounty kool-aid. The fact is that allowing further arctic oil development would effectively result in a further cut in the amount of habitat, critical habitat, that would be available to the species as the effects of global warming place other strains on its survival. Listing a species as a means of protecting its critical habitat in the face of increasing threats, which is certainly the case here, is a perfectly legitimate, appropriate, and necessary use of the ESA. Denying the appropriateness of this approach just shows that you don’t have a clue about conservation biology. Trying to frighten people away from exercising their better conservation instincts by threatening them with the end of the ESA” is a filthy tactic and just shows what you Catron trash will stoop to…

  12. avatar Monte says:

    Ralph, the polar bear is an iconic species, but allowing limited hunting at least gives the bear another constituency and gives the people who live with the bear added motivation for maintaining good huntable populations. When wildlife is devalued locally, especially predatory animals, the population tends to decrease as locals have less compelling reasons to preserve them.

  13. avatar jb says:

    cred says: “The author says the polar bear should be listed in order to address Arctic oil development. As I said, using ESA to address other issues that are not ESA issues is a bad idea, for the reasons I gave.”

    No. Actually this type of threat is exactly what the ESA was designed to address. Here are a couple of key quotes from the Act that demonstrate why:

    The Purpose of the ESA———–
    “The purposes of this chapter are to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved.”

    Note: The purpose is to protect threatened and endangered species AND THE ECOSYSTEMS UPON WHICH THEY DEPEND.

    Threatened species————
    “The term “threatened species” means any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.”

    Note: The polar bear meets the definition of a threatened species because (as the article discusses) it is clear that it is likely to become endangered “within the foreseeable future.”

    Determinations————–
    The ESA requires the Secretary of interior to “determine whether any species is an endangered species or a threatened species because of any of the following factors:
    (A) the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
    (C) disease or predation;
    (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.

    Note: Factors A, D, apply in this case: (A) The ice cap (the polar bear’s habitat) is melting; and (D) existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate because we are not regulating the anthropogenic contributers to global warming.

    Thus, it is proper that the Secretary of Interior list the polar bear as a threatened species throughout all of its range, as the ESA requires.

  14. avatar jb says:

    PART II.

    cred says, “Additionally, to list any species because it *might* become extinct, particularly when it would be attributed to global changes, means that every species on the planet should be listed under ESA – clearly a situation which would render the ESA totally ineffectual. Listing the polar bear is a step down the path to the end of the ESA.”

    You are mis-representing the case being made for the polar bear. It should not be listed because it “might” become extinct–wait long enough, and eventually all species will become extinct–rather, the polar bear should be listed because it MEETS THE DEFINITION OF A THREATENED SPECIES: “[a] species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout…”

    The key terms here are “likely” and “foreseeable future.” As the article discusses, the polar bear is “likely” to become endangered, and because of the rate at which the polar ice cap is receding, this is likely to happen sooner (i.e. in the foreseeable future) as opposed to later.

    Thus, listing the polar bear is proper and will not lead to the “end of the ESA” as you have suggested.

  15. avatar Tai says:

    Global warming & polar bears–prove it!! For the past few years, Alaskan biologists and scientists studying polar bears have gotten good news/bad news relating to polar bears and job security. The good new is, you have jobs. The bad new is, you are desk jockeys. We’re not going to give you money to go out in the field and do research on polar bears because we’re concerned your reseach might suggest polar bear numbers are declining and polar bear habitat is shrinking. The pubic might put two and two together and figure out the less habitat means less polar bears, and less habitat is somehow connected to . . . gw. Bush & Co.

  16. avatar Robert says:

    I heard an Alaskan politician on NPR claim that if the ESA puts the Polar Bear on the list it will cause a recession. He also claimed that the polar bear should not be on the list because it will bring undue negative attention to Alaska.

    Who’s in bed with the oil company?

    If putting the polar bear on the list will save one of the the last wilderness on earth from being deystroyed and possibly cause oil companies to develop alternaive fuels than I say go for it. Most of us in the us in the U.S. could use a little recession to put things into perspective any way.

    On another note. Although I’m not a hunter, I agree with Monte above about hunters being great conservationalists. Ted Turner, for example, is an avid hunter and owns the most privately owned wilderness in the U.S. Very few of the animals on his land are actually hunted, just enough to pay for the up-keep and ownership cost of the land.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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