The subject of endangered species has been on the forefront for environmentalists and nature enthusiasts’ minds for over 100 years. According to the Smithsonian, in the 1800s, American bison were hunted to near extinction by careless people who slaughtered them for the sake of killing. Near the end of the century, Congress took action to protect bison and other species in their surrounding environment. Today, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, there are over 30,000 bison roaming freely. There are many success stories similar to the bison, thanks to the effort of conservationists. In 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was established by Congress, giving 1,600 plant and animal species protection. According to National Geographic, the ESA made it nearly 100 percent successful to prevent them from extinction.
Unfortunately, the ESA is now endangered, thanks to the Trump administration. In a senate hearing last Wednesday, Feb.15, members proposed to “modernize” the ESA by making it more challenging to list a species as endangered or threatened. One of the excuses the Republicans made for calling to repeal the ESA was that they feared they couldn’t defend the livestock of farmers because the predators responsible for killing them are endangered. In their argument, they cited gray wolves as being the ultimate livestock killer, causing farmers to lose a lot of money. Gray wolves were once endangered, but no longer are. So in essence, there is the fear that predators protected under the Endangered Species Act could cause agricultural problems for farmers. I think that reason is weak and nonsensical, and here’s why.
Two of the species that are taking a hit is the bumblebee and the red wolf. This is not only an injustice to the bumblebee and the wolf, but it is also destructive. Every animal contributes to the ecosystem. When a certain species goes extinct, it can put a great stress on the living organisms that heavily rely on them. According to an article on princeton.edu by Navjot S. Sodhi, Barry W. Brook and Corey J. A. Bradshaw, if a pollinator or a predator goes extinct in its environment, it has the most consequences. Bumblebees are pollinators, meaning they are responsible for fertilizing plants, giving them the ability to reproduce. Our crops and vegetables rely on bees. Wolves are predators and they, too, have a strong effect on the ecosystem. Wolves are responsible for population control, which means if they go extinct, the population of its prey would grow abundant, causing more problems for other species.
If the threat to agriculture is the most talked about reason to “modernize” the ESA, then it should not be repealed. Plenty of protected species do not interfere with agriculture, and even if they did, there are better alternatives to protecting livestock from endangered predators than repealing the ESA. Getting a guardian dog is a solution and so is penning in livestock during the night. You can get a fence to keep predators out. There are even repellents to keep carnivores out. There are so many solutions a farmer can utilize instead of repealing something that has protected over 1,000 species. Why put every endangered animal needlessly at risk for extinction just because there is a miniscule chance that an endangered animal might threaten livestock?
Katherine Glosser can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org