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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Don't blame the law

Don't blame the law


Western governors gave the federal Endangered Species Act quite the tongue-lashing last week.

Utah’s Gary Herbert deemed the law “nonsensical.”

Idaho’s Butch Otter chimed in with “broken, bankrupt and fraud."

We don’t think the law is nearly so bad as that. In fact, it’s the law’s success at its core mission — saving species from extinction — that have led to the situations the governors cited in their harangue.

The gist of their tirade is that the feds are skilled at putting species on the list, but woeful at taking them off when the animal or plant has recovered.

That’s a legitimate complaint.

The feds should relinquish management of species to states as soon as it’s biologically reasonable to do so.

Trouble is, the courts, not the ESA itself, can get in the way.

In probably the most famous such case in the West, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the gray wolf from federal protection in 2009. But a judge, ruling on a lawsuit filed by wolf proponents, restored that protection earlier this year.

We disagree with that decision. We might even call it nonsensical. But the blame shouldn’t go to the law. That worked just as it was supposed to.

 
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