The Congressional debate over whether to maintain the no-listing Endangered Species Act rider for another year is coming to a head. Since 2014, Interior and Environment Appropriations bills have included an unrelated and inappropriate “rider” that prevents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) from considering Greater Sage-Grouse for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
This anti-conservation rider is motivated by politics and has no place in the management of this iconic western bird. The rider sets a very concerning precedent for future intervention in the USFWS’s mission to assess the biological status of a species and whether protection under the ESA is warranted.
By removing the rider, Congress can fix a wrong that impacts not only the bird but also America’s public lands, on which many of the birds are found. Audubon and 105 other groups are urging Congress to conserve the Greater Sage-Grouse & remove the destructive rider from the final Interior appropriations bill. Hunter and angler groups have also engaged on this important issue.
The Greater Sage-Grouse and the ecosystem on which it depends have been severely imperiled for many years and the situation only continues to worsen. Once spanning the West, sage-grouse populations have been declining dramatically. This rider impedes federal and state conservation efforts, which can benefit the economically and biologically important sagebrush ecosystem, the habitat upon which the bird is entirely dependent upon.
USFWS scientists must be allowed to do their job. It is time to stand up for our nation’s wildlife by calling on Congress to guide decisions with science, not politics.