Friday, June 28, 2013

Endagered Species Protection: a history

The book Acting for Endangered Species: the statutory ark (2002, by Shannon Petersen) outlines the history of the protection of endangered species in the United States, from the 19th century through the 1990s, with a focus on the Engandered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, which is codified in federal law as 16 U.S.C. sections 1531-1544.  The ESA passed without significant opposition in Congress, and was signed by the President Richard Nixon, who imagined it would only be used to protect popular species important to our national image, such as the bald eagle, bison, and grizzly bear. Since then, however, the courts have been used to protect all endangered species and, as a result, the ESA itself has come under attack in the Congress, leading to the first exemption to the rule that endangered species should be protected without consideration of economic impact.  This exemption was made for the Tennessee Valley Authority, granting Tellico Dam an exemption from the law, despite the threat to the endangered snail darter fish.

Massachusetts was the first state to regulate wildlife in any way, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony imposed a closed hunting season for deer in 1694

                                                  Bison skull pile, 1870s