Listing of Endangered Species to Be Clarified by the Administration

Listing of Endangered Species to Be Clarified by the Administration

December 29, 2011


A new rule proposed by the Obama administration Friday seeks to end the practice of classifying some endangered species differently in various states.

This new policy would make clear that an animal or a plant could be listed as endangered or threatened if the threats happen in a “significant portion of its range,” even such threat crosses state lines and does not apply to the entire range of the species.

The draft policy will replace a rule made during the Bush administration, which allowed animals like Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and the gray wolf to have different classifications in neighboring states. Last spring, the 2007 rule was withdrawn after two federal courts rejected it.

In the gray wolves’ case, the government in 2009 tried to lift protections for the predators in Montana and Idaho but left them in place in Wyoming where state laws allowed them to be shot on sight in most areas of the state. That rule was seen as too harsh to ensure the long-term survival of the species.

The protections across the region were later reinstated by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, ruling that the agency could not declare the wolves recovered in two states when a portion of the same population remained threatened in Wyoming.

This spring, Congress intervened in the dispute with regards to removing the protections in Montana and Idaho. A new proposal, which is still pending, has since been offered by the federal government, to take the wolves off the list of endangered species in Wyoming.

In rejecting the Bush policy on endangered species list, Molloy said that it was “at its heart a political solution that does not comply with the ESA or the Endangered Species Act.”