“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released its Candidate Notice of Review, a yearly appraisal of the current status of plants and animals considered candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),” the USFWS announced in a November 20, 2012 press release. “There are now 192 species recognized by the Service as candidates for ESA protection, the lowest number in more than 12 years,” the agency release stated.
Those opening sentences in the press release might have caused many farmers, ranchers, businesses and property owners to heave a sigh of relief, hoping that they might be spared prosecution and persecution due to the reduced ESA candidate list. That could be a false hope, as the Obama administration gives every sign of utilizing all the tools and opportunities at its disposal to stop energy projects, block economic development, and lock up federal lands. As reported here recently ("Specious Endangerment: Obama Awards Spotted Owls 9.6 Million Acres"), the administration has nearly doubled the critical habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl, locking up 9.6 million acres of forestland in Washington, Oregon, and California.
Will a chipmunk or snail darter be used next as a pretext to wreak havoc on an industry, State, or region? The same USFWS press release states: “Today’s notice identifies two new candidate species: Peñasco least chipmunk (Sacramento and White Mountains, New Mexico) and Cumberland arrow darter (Kentucky and Tennessee).”
But the new candidates have competition for ESA priority from many other contenders: weeds, bugs, fish, birds, frogs, flies, toads, snakes, etc. Federal agencies and their allies in environmental activist organizations are constantly presenting cases for adding new candidates and expanding the habitat and protection of those already listed as threatened or endangered. Once the proposed ESA rules are published in the Federal Register, it is anyone’s guess as to how long before the mayhem begins.
On September 11, 2012 the USFWS published this ESA listing in the Federal Register:
We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to list two Texas plants, Leavenworthia texana (Texas golden gladecress) as an endangered species and Hibiscus dasycalyx (Neches River rose-mallow) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) and propose to designate critical habitat for both species.
Property owners will not be comforted to read in the proposed listing that “the majority of lands being proposed for critical habitat designation are owned by private landowners, although the Federal Government and the State of Texas own small portions.”
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Photo at top: AP Images