The Endangered Species Act was established in 1973. The purpose of the act is to protect endangered species along with the habitat in which their life depends. The Endangered Species Act lists a species as endangered if it is likely to become extinct through all or a portion of its range. The act also protects “threatened” species that are likely to become endangered in the future if something is not done to protect them. (Endangered Species Act, n,d. ) In the book Clashing Sides, Taking Views a controversial debate has arisen over whether the Endangered Species Act should be strengthened or left as it is. Easton, 2008) In this paper the author will examine both sides of the issue thoroughly. After examining both sides of the issue the author will make a determination on which side of the issue holds more merit. The Endangered Species Act has had many positive influences in its more than 35 years of existence. Hundreds of breeds of species have been saved from going extinct. Millions of acres of fish and wildlife habitats have been protected from technological advances. (Keeping the Endangered Species Act, n. d. To date, 98% of the endangered species that have been put under the care of the Endangered Species Act are still in existence today. (Easton, 2008)
If the Endangered Species Act was not in place then it is more than likely that these magnificent animals would not be around for our children and grandchildren to enjoy for generations to come. Not only does the Endangered Species Act protect the animals but it is likely protecting people as well. That is because the Endangered Species Act is helping maintain biodiversity. Biodiversity is the number and variety of species within the ecosystem they occupy, (Cunningham, 2008, p. 6) Biodiversity is important if you want to have a healthy ecosystem. In the ecosystem each species is highly dependent on another species for survival. An incident at Yellowstone Park showed what could happen if a key species is removed from an ecosystem. The park began to notice that the ecosystem was having a lot of problems. The Elk Population was over browsing. Smaller mammal populations were dwindling and plant health and diversity was on the decline. They believed that this was because of the eradication of the areas main predator, the grey wolf.
They wanted to introduce grey wolves back into Yellowstone Park to see if it would balance out the ecosystem. Their goal was successful. The wolves prey on the Elk in turn helping reduce the elk population. This helped eliminate the over browsing and returned plant health and diversity. The Elk Carcass left behind by the grey wolf also helps feed predators. Finally, the wolves have also decreased the population of the coyote which was preying on the small mammals. As you can see all the original problems that Yellowstone Park was experiencing was solved by integrating the grey wolf back into the ecosystem. Cunningham, 2008, page 95) In the future it is possible that humans could face the extinction of a key species that is important to our very survival. “Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson estimated that Earth is currently losing something on the order of 30,000 species per year — which breaks down to the even more daunting statistic of some three species per hour. ” (Eldredge, 2001) Those numbers should be a wakeup call. We humans depend on biodiversity like any other species. All of these species that are becoming extinct could be among many that are critical to our survival.
Therefore, we should do what we can to protect anymore harm being done. However, with the help of the Endangered Species Act this is not likely to happen today. I know from personal experience however that sometimes the attempt to keep balance in the ecosystem can come with its on set of difficulties though. I lived in a small community in Bath, NY for approximately five years. The local EPA decided that the area was being overrun by deer. Therefore, they released Coyotes to cut down the deer population. A couple of years later though they found that the coyotes were greatly overpopulated.
That is when they released panthers to start weeding out the coyote population. The result is that today this small community is full of both coyotes and panthers. If you live in this community it is not uncommon to step out your back door and see a coyote or a panther sitting in your backyard. This has actually caused the loss of a couple of lives that were attacked by these animals. I can’t help but think that the problem would have been much better handled if the EPA had just let the hunters take care of the abundant deer population.
Maybe the better course of action would have been to issue extra deer hunting permits until the population was under control. The endangered species act is regulated by the EPA and can pose many more problems than the problem I just mentioned above. People have argued that very large amounts of money have been invested into animals that will never have the viability of making it on their own. While millions have been invested in these animals which is considered a waste, many people believe the money could have been better spent on an animal that has a stronger chance of viability (The Endangered Species Act: Pro and Con, n. . ) I believe the strong question here should be is if there is any point to all this money that is invested into the endangered species act for any animal. Let’s forget the question of an animal that is viable or unviable at this point. Animals have existed for billions of years. Even before man came along animals roamed the earth. They came and went as nature intended. They needed no help from man to survive because this is simply the way that nature intended for it to be. With the placement of the endangered species act are we essentially playing God in deciding what lives and what dies?
Looking at the millions of dollars that have been spent on the Endangered Species Act one may ask how much success the Endangered Species act has brought in regards of stabilizing the animals on its protection list. The chart below breaks this information down. Chart Source: (Wilcove, 1996) As you can see a staggering 64 percent is either declining or unknow. 27% is listed as stable or only 9% is listed as improving. Is the small percentage of successes worth the millions of dollars that has been invested into this act?
Moving on, the Endangered Species Act “provides authority to acquire land for the conservation of listed species, using land and water conservation funds. ” (Endangered Species Act, n. d. ) This may seem to be ok at first glance. These people that are forced out of their homes are compensated well for their trouble. However, some cultures have lived on the same land for generation after generation. When they have to move off of the land and property that they have called their own for generations this can cause a lot of issues. They could have trouble finding a new place to reside or they could find trouble finding work in a new location.
Is this really what we want? We may be saving the lives on endangered species but we could be putting the lives of our fellow man as risk as well. They could find themselves living homeless on the street with no means to work or provide food for their families. When you start talking about the loss of homes and jobs the environmental protection act can breed a lot of anger. This is the case in a small town in Oregon, Sweet Home. For generations, the residents have depended on logging work to provide for their families. When the Environmental Protection Act started causing huge losses of jobs with this town the people of Sweet Water rebelled.
The windows of the local downtown shops showcased messages of hate towards Environmental Efforts. Cars sported bumper stickers with such hateful messages as save a tree shoot on owl. (Endangered Species Left Homeless In Sweet Home, n. d. ) Is this really what we want? You want people to be on board with the Environmental Protection Act. Not working against it. The fact that it causes so much bitterness and hate would be a definite cause for reform. Looking at all the possible pros and cons of the Endangered Species Act has brought this author to the decision that the Endangered Species Act should definitely be strengthened.
The original premise behind the act has a lot of merit. Mainly, this author takes her stand on the endangered species act being strengthened based on the importance of biodiversity. The incident discussed earlier in this paper about what happened in Yellowstone Park is all the proof one needs about the importance of biodiversity in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. The fact that we can save the lives of animals that may have been lost hundreds of years ago, that can now be enjoyed by generations to come is just an added perk of the Endangered Species Act. However, reforms need to be made and the act efinitely needs to be strengthened. The 66 % of species under the Endangered Species act that are either declining or unknown is an unacceptable statistic considering the amount of money that is invested into this act. In addition, human beings should not be forced out of their homes or jobs for this act. This is unacceptable to put man in turmoil at the expense of this act. With a few reforms to prevent this kind of thing from happening along with a stronger system in place to strengthen the viability of these animals that are under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, This Act can be a huge success.
Cunningham, W. P. and Cunningham, M. A. (2008). Principles of environmental science: Inquiry and applications (Custom 5th ed. ). New York: McGraw-Hill. Easton, T. (2008). Taking sides: Clashing views on controversial environmental issues. (Custom 13th ed. ). New York: McGraw-Hill. Eldredge, N. (June, 2001) The Sixth Extinction. Retrieved March, 24, 2011 from http://www. environment. gov. za/enviro-info/nat/biome. htm Endangered Species Act (n. d. ) Retrieved April 18, 2011 from http://www. internationalparrotletsociety. org/esa. html Endangered Species Act Left Homeless In Sweet Home. (n. d. Retrieved April 18, 2011 from http://www. internationalparrotletsociety. org/esa. html Endangered Species Act Overview. (n. d. ) Retrieved April 4, 2011 from http://www. fws. gov/endangered/laws-policies/index. html Keeping The Endangered Species Act Strong. (n. d. ) Retrieved April 4, 2011 from http://www. nwf. org/Wildlife/Policy/Endangered-Species-Act. aspx The Endangered Species Act: Pro and Con. (n. d. ) Retrieved April 18, 2011 from http://www. thebeckoning. com/environment/esa/esa-pro-con. html Wilcove, D. Rebuilding The Ark. (n. d. ) Retrieved April 18, 2011 from http://www. edf. org/documents/483_Rebuilding%20the%20Ark. htm