From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1993:

Babbitt moves on endangered species
Newly appointed Interior
Secretary Bruce Babbitt lost no time
demonstrating a new approach to endan-
gered species protection. As President Bill
Clinton scheduled a Forest Summit for
April 2, in hopes of resolving the long
impasse over northern spotted owl habitat
and old growth logging in the Pacific
Northwest, Babbitt on March 13 appointed
noted conservation biologists Thomas
Lovejoy of the Smithsonian Institution and
Peter Raven of the Missouri Botanical
Garden to set up a national biological sur-
vey, which will map animal and plant habi-
tat much as the U.S. Geological Survey
maps topographical features. The habitat
map will be the first step toward reorienting
Endangered Species Act enforcement to
focus upon critical ecosystems, instead of
trying to save species on a slow, costly
case-by-case basis.

March 25, Babbitt showed how
the new approach would work by declaring
the California gnatcatcher an endangered
species, but exempting developers whose
projects have been held up by the presence
of the tiny bird from prosecution for damag-
ing gnatcatcher habitat–– i f they cooperate
in a plan advanced by the California gov-
ernment to set aside an ecosystem reserve
that would not only save the gnatcatcher but
also protect about 50 other potentially
threatened or endangered species who occu-
py smilar habitat. Babbitt had already
authorized adding three other controversial
species to the Endangered Species list––the
western snowy plover, a beach-nesting
shorebird native to coastal Oregon, the
Mexican spotted owl, and the Delta smelt,
whose presence in the San Joaquin delta of
California could potentially cause economic
catastrophe by disrupting water allocations.
Babbitt is expected to seek settlements
involving each species similar to the one
negotiated to save the gnatcatcher. So
demonstrating that species protection and
economic development can be done togeth-
er is likely to be the key to getting a strong
Endangered Species Act through the present
Congress. The ESA came up for renewal
last year, but action was deferred because
members facing the fall election were reluc-
tant to take it on.
War on wolves continues
A helicopter attack team dis-
patched by the Yukon government
February 5 to strafe 150 of the estimated
200 wolves in the Ashihik Lake region
could find and kill only 70 in three weeks,
confirming the suspicion of independent
observers that the size of the wolf popula-
tion and its influence on moose and caribou
herds has been greatly exaggerated. The
Yukon now estimates only 40 to 50 wolves
remain in the area, meaning the original
estimate was nearly double the actuality.
Yukon residents still favor the wolf mas-
sacre, according to one newspaper poll, by
a 60-40 margin, but support for continuing
the wolf-killing next year is only 50-50,
even before the effects of a tourism boycott
called by wolf defenders have been felt.
While the Yukon wolf-killing is scheduled
to go on for five years, the $200,000-a-year
program may soon be suspended––if only to
save money.
Forced by an international tourism
boycott to cancel any wolf-strafing for
“game management” purposes this year,
trophy hunters and the Alaskan officials
who serve them meanwhile continue to seek
a way to kill wolves. In late February a
group of hunters asked the state Department
of Fish and Game to declare an emergency
wolf hunt, to protect supposedly diminish-
ing moose and caribou. Turned down, they
took their case to the Republican-controlled
state Senate, which on March 12 passed
Bill 77, setting the maintenance of high
game populations as the first priority of the
Board of Game, and mandating the destruc-
tion of predators before any action can be
taken to reduce hunting. Bill 77 is now
before the House, where a Republican
majority also prevails. If ratified into law,
it will reportedly be challenged on
Constitutional grounds by the Anchorage-
based conservation group Trustees for
Alaska governor Walter Hickel
strengthened the influence of trophy hunters
on the Board of Game by appointing anoth-
er trophy hunter to it on March 4. The new
member, Sue Entsminger, is an outspoken
advocate of killing wolves; a furrier by
trade; and posed for a popular poster cap-
tioned, “Alaskans wear fur bikinis.” The
board is to meet June 26-July 1 to map a
new strategy for “wolf control,” in place of
the plan it was obliged to withdraw in
The best hope for Alaskan wolves
at the moment may be amendments to the
federal Airborne Hunting Act introduced in
Congress on March 17 by Representative
Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), which would clari-
fy the intent of the original act by more
explicitly barring use of aircraft to kill
predators in order to boost game animal
Wildlife Refuges impact statement issued
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on January 15 issued the latest edition of a
draft plan for future management of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The plan has
been continuously in revision and consultation stages since 1976, due to conflict among
interest groups––hunters, loggers, miners, and ranchers on the one hand, who wish to con-
tinue using refuges for their own purposes, and conservationists and animal advocates on
the other, who hope to see the refuge system restored to its original purpose of protecting
wild animals. Of the seven possible scenarios outlined in the present draft, the Sanctuary
Alternative and the Wildlife Observation Alternative would ban hunting except in Alaska,
where Native American treaty rights would continue, while the Hunting, Trapping, and
Fishing Alternative, heavily supported by the gun lobby, would
reinforce the use of the refuge system as a shooting gallery. The
plan may be obtained from: Chief, Division of Refuges,
USFWS, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 670, Arlington, VA
22203. Comments may be addressed both there and to
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