BREAKING NEWS: Key House committee votes to reverse Trump administration’s harmful changes to Endangered Species Act

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on January 29, 2020 with 50 Comments

Last year, the Trump administration finalized regulations that gutted the Endangered Species Act, making it harder to grant and maintain federal protections for species that are fighting for survival. Today, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee voted to reverse those dangerous changes by approving the Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish in Need of Conservation Act (the PAW and FIN Conservation Act), H.R. 4348.

The measure would nullify regulations that strip threatened species of vital safeguards, create hurdles to list species threatened by climate change, weaken protection of critical habitat, and make it easier for federal agencies to ignore the impact of government actions on listed species, including African lions, grizzly bears and elephants. The regulations, finalized last August, also directed regulators to assess economic impacts when making decisions about whether species should be listed, tipping the scales against animals who happen to live in areas targeted by business operations like mining, oil drilling or development.

These are unacceptable changes, especially at a time when animals across the globe face great challenges to their survival due to poaching, habitat loss, the climate crisis and trophy hunting. The ESA has saved more than 99 percent of listed species from going extinct, and now is the time to enhance, not dismantle, it. Soon after they were announced, the rules were challenged in court by the attorneys general of 17 states and by a slew of environmental and animal protection organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States. We are pleased to see Congress move decisively to throw these dangerous rules out.

The committee also marked up several other important pieces of wildlife conservation legislation today, including bills concerning the establishment of wildlife corridors to address disjointed habitats and the development of integrated national climate change resiliency strategies. These bills include:

The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act, H.R. 2795, to establish a National Wildlife Corridors Program for federal public lands as well as authorize funding for states, tribes and other entities to pursue comprehensive corridor network projects on non-federal lands to boost biodiversity, protect ecosystems, and help safeguard iconic species like the Florida panther and bighorn sheep.

The Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act, H.R. 5179, to support efforts by Native American tribes to establish a Tribal Wildlife Corridors System on tribal lands.

The Safeguarding America’s Future and Environment (SAFE) Act, H.R. 2748, to require federal agencies to work together and in conjunction with state, tribal and local governments to identify and prioritize specific conservation and management strategies responsive to the challenges of extreme weather and climate change.

Committee members also marked up a bill, H.R. 2956, to establish the Western Riverside County National Wildlife Refuge in California that would provide habitat for 146 species of plants and animals.

We are grateful to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., for moving these five bills forward, and to all of the members who voted in favor of them. We look forward to all of them moving soon to debate and vote on the full House floor.

A United Nations report last year warned that one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction, with alarming implications for human survival. By passing these bills, we can ensure that our nation is doing its part to help conserve global and American wildlife. But before they go to the House floor for a vote, we need to ensure that all five have a high cosponsor count. Please contact your Representative in Congress today and urge them to cosponsor these important bills.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. R. Adolfo Oliver says:

    Stop hunting

    • G. Cummings says:

      Thank you. No hunting!

      • Nikki says:

        No one should be able to go in a bears den and kill them while they are hibernating…that’s not hunting, that’s just murder!
        That’s not ok…

        Humans are the #1 invasive species making the largest negative impact on the world.

        • mike says:

          Nikki, I have been a Hunter for many years and not once have I seen anyone go into a den a shoot a hibernating bear. Most states that allow a bear hunting season havetheseason well before the animals begin to den up for the winter. If some one is shooting a bear in the den during hibernation – that is poaching and is totally illegal. Poachers are not tolerated by your typical hunters.

          • Cheryl T. Barnes says:

            mike–you are one of those with integrity. But many would and most likely have done it just because they ‘can’ and can get away with it. It’s humanity at its lowest level.

            • Bob Smith says:

              Show me your proof! Don’t regurgitate what you “heard” on CNN.

              • kathy says:

                It has happened in Michigan. A man and his two sons did it. While it may not be legal to go in their dens, it’s now legal to use baits. Despicable! Don’t get me started on the wolves.

          • TJ says:

            Listen to the tape of the bear cubs SCREAMING in terror in the background while hunters killed their mother – then killed the cubs. Horrific.

        • Dr Baker says:


        • Janette Mejia says:

          I agree with you 100%! No one should ever be allowed to hunt any animal while it’s hibernating, or if it’s not. Humans are the problem, not bears!!

      • J crane says:

        Finally some sanity.

    • CT says:

      Hunting is not the problem. Interest in hunting is what drives much of the conservative part of our society to vote for conservation bills and initiatives. Without hunting, many of them have no interest in out door space and conservation at all. Your blanket statement about no hunting is plain short sighted. You could have said, no more hunting of severely threatened species or something like that . . . but you didn’t.

      • Bill says:

        A cattle population of 95M demand predation control that includes enabling and promoting “hunting” “sportsmen”. Free Market and YOUR diet of beef creates this Killing Pyramid! #boycottbeef

      • Janette Mejia says:

        So basically you enjoy killing animals and you don’t want to lose your ability to take a life? Pathetic!

  2. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Tenemos que cuidar todas las especies en peligro y mejor nuestro ecosistema

  3. Laura Jarvis says:

    Stop trophy hunting. They say the money helps with conservation, but if the biggest and strongest are killed for sport the species will not survive. There are too many beautiful animals gone already. Hunters are nothing more then murderers with a sickness if they could take pleasure in the death of a living animal with no defense.

    • Denise says:

      Totally agree

    • Susan Metcalf says:

      I’m a hunter. There is a difference between trophy hunting and hunting. I hunt to put food on my table. I do not sport or trophy hunt. You cannot eat the antlers, ivory or heads so I’m good on all that. Never could understand doing that. I eat what I kill and nothing goes to waste. I’m not fond of sport hunting but if it’s going to be done, it needs to be monitored more closely than what it has been and steeper fines for violating.

      • Carol Yarbrough says:

        Good for you. You are a hunter, not a killer! No reason to just kill something to make a person feel important, better ways to feel good about themselves.

      • BARBARA James Streeter says:

        Susan Metcalf And that’s exactly how it should be!! Hunt for food!!!🙂

    • Nick Nicholas says:

      You need to understand how detrimental to species survival your logistic is. When the older, bigger member, of many species, keep living on, they control their herd, pact, group, etc, and prevent younger males from breeding, reducing both genetic diversity and reducing the numbers of that species born. It may seem a shame to kill the older majestic animals, but in doing so it often quickened the recovery of many species, and wildlife biologists have a pretty good handle on when to use that as a tool to improve the numbers and genetic diversity of a species by allowing the younger males to breed, who will mate more often.

      • Mike says:

        Thank you, Nick. As a hunter, and having a college degree in Resource Management, I too understand the need for hunting seasons, if for nothing else but to keep a wild species population numbers in healthy control.

    • David Bennett says:

      Hunters? Bite Me! Your blanket statement insults those of us that harvest a whitetail deer each year for FOOD. If you eant to provide me with 100+ lbs. of meat for free then I will considet not hunting but the fact is that my hunting license fees go directly to my state Dept. Of Fish & Game to help in the conservation of my state’s extensive wildlife populations. Your statement is actually indicative of a lack of knowledge which begs the question:Are you choosing to be ignorant? I surmised that you aren’t stupid based on your grammatical literacy. So are you going to actually do some obviously needed research into wildlife management or choose to remain ignorant?

    • Rob says:

      If you are an eater of beef, pork, chicken, lamb, wild game, or fish, just where did they come from. They had to be harvested (killed) in order for you to consume them.
      Oh, you say you are vegetarian! Ok, plants have to be grown and harvested (killed)in order to be consumed by humans and it has been scientifically documented that stimulation such as being physically harvested (again killed) and do react to same through electro chemistry.
      So now what do you eat without killing (harvesting)some living organism? Either you are by definition a hypocrite by saying it is ok to harvest (again kill) one type but not the other, OR, you are not a hypocrite and just don’t eat anything. Good luck non hypocrite, see how long you will live either eating nothing or dirt (soil)!

  4. Eileen Walusek says:

    Does this also protect bears and wolves? Last I read they were shooting them as they came out of their dens and places of hibernation, including pups and cubs.

    • Elaine domalewski says:

      How sad that is!!

    • Tom Adessa says:

      So I have to ask when and how much did you contribute to conservation efforts last year? I do every time I buy ammo, a firearm, archery equipment and other items; it’s called the Pittman-Robertson Act. The taxes I pay (11%) on those items goes for conservation efforts so that many people can enjoy various pursuits in the outdoors. For instance, hiking, biking, canoeing, bird watching and so on.

  5. Kris says:

    A government that doesn’t protect wildlife is not to be respected or trusted!

  6. Fabiola Gonzalez says:

    We need to stop voting 🗳 for these officials who can care less about the severity of this problem, we will have jacked up climate, ecosystems, contaminated water and food and until then people will realize their jobs and money will be worth nothing . I don’t care about political petty arguments and sarcasms. I will vote with whoever has a brain and will act on climate change, renewable energy (jobs, hello, go back to school) protecting our ecosystems, end the trophy hunting for the few greedy psychopaths who kill for fun and protecting our natural resources. Capitalism is not the problem, ignorance and greed are the problem.

  7. Ninette Slater says:

    What about the wolves. They are important in our ecosystem and keep the coyotes under control. Stop hunting and murdering the wolves too.

    • Cheryl Henderson says:

      Agreed. We need to educate the public to co exist with all wildlife! Educate, NOT exterminate!!

    • Billy Angus says:

      Well said.
      Wolves, buffalo, and grizzly bears are also very sacred to the indigenous peoples,
      for they are revered as relatives and medicine animals to
      the tribal nations…..A`ho.

      Personally, I have a deep disdain towards trophy hunters and trappers,
      for they are serpents disguised as humans who dress up like serpents,
      spewing blasphemy with their forked tongues of the Devil.

  8. Sandra Pitcock says:

    Well said and I am in complete agreement!

  9. Gina Chronowicz says:

    Halt unethical hunting practices in national refuges which allow baiting, killing bears, wolves, with cubs in their dens, pursuing deer in boats, using dogs etc. All the despicable actions of unethical sadists.

  10. Janae says:

    Animals and wildlife need to be protected, Especially from trophy hunters!

  11. Margaret says:

    Trophy hunting is despicable. Protect our animals and our environment!

  12. Janine V says:

    We don’t need anymore animals on the endangered species list! Hunting should be banned for putting so much animals on the list.

  13. Judith D'Amico says:

    I was happy to see that the congress has passed bill to reinstate the protective species act that Trump took away. He also issued hunting licences to hunt lions again, plus other wild animals. I posted info on FB. when he signed reversing what Obama had passed. I wouldn’t bet on the house passing the Bill’s to reinstate all the Bill’s that congress wrote
    Mitch may just toss them the PILE. Even if he does, the house will not pass them
    Trump would not sign.

  14. Linda Roach says:

    Please we must protect animals.

  15. Patricia Pace says:

    Why do they bother to vote on anything. It won’t pass the Senate even it McConnell lets it go through.

  16. Frances Vlahos-Rohm says:

    Please do more research to understand that generalizing all hunting as evil makes no sense. It is just not true. Trophy hunting, and poaching are different things entirely. We have made our giant footprint on the earth, and are responsible for stewardship, and regulated hunting is a part of that. Have you seen what happens to the deer populations, when those populations are not carefully controlled? They quickly over-populate, the genetics become weak and the deer suffer from diseases, starvation etc. Since we have already messed with the natural predators, it is our responsibility to study, count, and control. Hunting is a part of the discussion, but lets not villify a group of people who willingly pay through licensing, tags, etc. for the programs that support the healthy continuation of the animals that they hunt. It is not the hunters who are responsible for the loss of habitat, fouling and destruction of environments, poaching for ivory, and alleged aphrodisiac parts and pieces of animals.

  17. Jon Roderick says:

    People like you amaze me. As long as the wolves arent in your back yard right? As long as you can keep a pet and livestock alive for more than a few months without a wolf killing them…. who cares if the wolves decimate the deer and elk population to nearly non existent point??? As long as its not yoir kids who are terrified to walk home from the bus stop in the winter when its pitch dark at 4:30pm and wolves are howling all around them. Luckily it will be spring soon and the kids can watch a pack of wolves ripping a half born calf out of its mother on the same walk home ….. its not always “im all fuzzy and warm and i live in the city but am all for the beautiful wolf and one with nature” crap.

  18. Elizabeth George says:

    All of us should be aware that the Protection and Conservation of all the Wildlife and the Environment creates Balance and Very Good Existence of our natural system of Survivor on Earth! This is the way our Planet is created so we can continue a healthy survival of the future !

  19. William says:

    I don’t understand how the ‘Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish in Need of Conservation Act’ has anything to do with African lions and elephants as explained in this article. Were they just mentioned because they are big and lovable and garner significant support from anti-hunters? And seeing how the grizzly bear reached population goals in the recovery area one would think these ‘professionals’ could exemplify one of the many less charismatic creatures that needs support. And what is with all the ‘killing bears in dens’ talk. Because one poacher, not a hunter but a criminal, did it in Alaska and is now in jail? What worries me is voters who get all their information from sensationalize and radical anti-hunting blogs.

  20. Daniel O'Brien says:

    Keep up the good work and don’t let Grumpy Donald Trump try to mess with the Endangered Species Act and we must remove Smelly Andrew Wheeler from the EPA. I care a lot about keeping endangered species safe.

  21. Ralph D Protano says:

    I am having my students write to their Congressperson, to help get legislation passed to protect wildlife. This is a disgrace that the Trump Administration dismantled the ESA. Our voices will be heard.

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