Changes to the ESA puts species at-risk

Picture of an endangered deerASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director Leah Gerber was quoted this week in a Time article addressing the recent changes made by the U.S. federal government to the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The article, titled “The Trump Administration’s Changes to the Endangered Species Act Risks Pushing More Species to Extinction” echoes the concern of various conservation scientists who fear the changes will further threaten imperiled species. One of the major changes to the ESA includes prioritizing economic factors over categorizing species based on their endangered or threatened state. “Recovering species is a biological question, not an economic question,” comments Gerber. Another concern is the vague language regarding when risks will be assessed for certain species (on a case-by-case scenario and in the “foreseeable future”), disregarding the imminent threat of climate change. These changes hinder two of the major accomplishments of the ESA to date: (1) protecting of over 1,600 plant and animal species in the country and (2) keeping 99% of the species listed as endangered from going extinct. The Time’s article received additional media coverage from Flip Science’s segment summarizing “The Week in Science & Technology.”