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SICB Officers

Endangered Species Act Reauthorization

    The SICB Conservation Committee (Fraser Shilling, chair) worked with eight societies to create a statement on science-based reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act. The statement grew out of the Conservation Resolution passed by SICB (then ASZ) in 1995. The statement was printed as an advertisement in the New York Times and has been distributed to members of Congress and to the Executive Branch. Below is a shortened version of this statement for your reference.

    Science-Based Reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act
    We, the undersigned presidents of scientific societies, present to the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government the following recommendations for reauthorizing the Endangered Species Act (1973) and development of guidelines for its use based on biological science. The collective membership of our societies is more than 30,000 scientists. Our expertise is in marine, terrestrial, and aquatic ecosystems, studying a wide variety of plant and animal species. The Endangered Species Act will be effective only if the strategies for habitat conservation, recovery planning, and protection from harm for listed species are based on sound scientific information. The majority of the American public has indicated a desire for conservation of threatened and endangered species and their habitats through a strong Endangered Species Act. It is our professional opinion that this goal can best be accomplished if the reauthorization incorporates the following principles and recommendations.

    1. The rate of human-caused extinction caused by human activities is from 100 to 1000 times as high as the natural rate. The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to contain human actions that could threaten extinction of a species and to proactively plan for recovery of the listed and candidate species.
    2. The federal government should declare and describe the critical habitat for threatened and endangered species at the time of listing, based upon sufficient scientific information. Critical habitat is defined as the specific areas within and outside the geographical area presently occupied by the listed species containing features essential to the conservation of the species. Critical habitat designation and revisions of same should be made.
    3. Recovery is a priority of the Endangered Species Act. To accomplish this, the federal government should designate recovery area(s) greater than that needed for a minimum viable population. Recovery plans should be independently peer-reviewed and the planning should take place before experi-mental efforts, such as "Habitat Conservation Plans."
    4. Reasonable implemented recovery plans will provide for: a) an area sufficient to absorb 100 percent of the recovered population(s) and b) population goals based upon best available scientific information. Implementation of plans should take place within 90 days of listing. Successful recovery takes place across the available landscape previously occupied by the species. Where private lands are needed, the federal government should either make arrangements for a market value purchase of the lands required, or arrange with willing landowners for easements with no incompatible human activity.
    5. In order to achieve uniformity in successful endangered species conservation, the federal government should cooperate with local governing bodies to ensure that no action preempts the containment strategies central to the Act. New and existing Habitat Conservation Plans developed at the state, regional, county and municipal level should follow the guidelines of the Act as described here. Habitat Conservation Plans should undergo an environmental impact analysis with attention paid to cumulative impacts.
    6. To limit risks of extinction, no private or public agency action should negatively modify habitat occupied by threatened, endangered, or candidate species or habitat within the recovery area designated by a recovery plan. No private or public agency action should threaten recovery or result in jeopardy, harassment, or harm to a listed or candidate species.
    7. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (1973) needs support by the federal government through measures such as restriction on trade with any country repeatedly found to allow the trade of threatened or endangered species through insufficient regulation in a manner found to counteract recovery efforts.
    8. No listed or candidate species, or parts thereof, should be imported to, or exported from, the United States of America or its protectorates or traded between states. These provisions should only be preempted for traditional use by Native people of listed species and for scientific and restoration activities where only a minor segment (<10%) of the population(s) is affected.
    9. Harming of listed species through the "incidental take" permitting process should be prohibited because it is considered to be inconsistent with the recovery of listed species. Because of the risks posed by take, this provision should be removed in order to decrease the risk that its use poses to listed species. Habitat Conservation Plans can be developed in the absence of incidental take and be used to do as their name suggests, plan for the conservation of ample available habitat for listed species.
    10. There should be no economic considerations or "cost-benefit analyses" associated with listing decisions, critical habitat designation, jeopardy determinations, or recovery plan development and implementation. These decisions are best made when based only on the best scientific information.

    Alan Kohn, President and Michael Hadfield, Past President, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology

    James MacMahon, President, Ecological Society of America Nancy Dengler, President, Botanical Society of America

    Alicia Linzey, President, American Society of Mammalogists Doug Dahlman, President, Entomological Society of America

    Richard Grosberg, President and Mark Denny, Past President, Western Society of Naturalists

    Alan Savitzky, President and Ted Pietsch, Past President, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists

    Robert Hershler, President, American Malacological Union

    Tom Malone, President, American Society of Limnology and Oceanography

The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
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