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KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West.

Changes To Environmental Species Act Could Impact Regional Wildlife

Roy Anderson
/
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The North American Wolverine is proposed as threatened, but changes to how the Endangered Species Act is implemented could weaken its protections.

Federal officials have announced changes to the Endangered Species Act, which could have big impacts on wildlife and habitat throughout our region.

Agencies can now take economic costs into account before listing a species, rather than scientific interest alone. The revisions also remove automatic protections for species labeled as "threatened."

"This is just a disaster for threatened and endangered species," says Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

Greenwald says climate change is also not a part of the equation when considering threats to habitat, which is particularly bad for the American Wolverine in our region. That animal depends on spring snowpack for mating.

"This is the Trump administration rolling back protections for threatened and endangered species at a time when threats are increasing, when the U.N. recently said millions of species are at risk of immediate extinction," Greenwald says.

The Department of Interior says its aim is to increase clarity, consistency and efficiency. Secretary Bernhardt said in a statement that "an effectively administered Act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation."

Greenwald says his group plans to challenge the revised rules in court.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2019 KUNR. For more, visit kunr.org.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.