Congress Asked To Rein In Endangered Species Act

Ranchers want the heavy-handed ESA approach to species streamlined.

Published on: Oct 12, 2011

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers is asking the U.S. Congress to require the Department of Interior  and the Fish and Wildlife Service to streamline the Endangered Species Act to better balance comprehensive science, economic development, input from affected stakeholders, and private property rights when determining whether to list, introduce, and/or relocate a threatened or endangered plant of animal species.

TSCRA passed its policy during the Cattle Raisers 2011 Fall Meeting in Lubbock.

According to TSCRA, many species are listed without sound evidence supporting claims that species are indeed endangered.

"The ESA has far reaching implications concerning agricultural practices and private property rights in areas where endangered and threatened plant and animal species may exist," says Joe Parker Jr., TSCRA president and Byers, Texas rancher. "Before government implements new regulations that could potentially harm the cattle industry, they should at least have strong proof that there is a problem."

TSCRA says the interpretation and administration of the ESA often exceeds the intent of Congress. In addition to lacking sound science, Parker says the ESA doesn't include the economic impact studies.

Ranchers work to protect the environment, but they fear that the ESA has become another vehicle used by the federal government to control what ranchers can and can't do on their land, Parker notes.

TSCRA policy also supports the ability of private landowners to voluntarily participate in non-regulatory inventive programs to comply with the ESA and to be eligible for any tax incentives associated with those programs.

The organization also opposes forced perpetual land-use takings, management plants, and easements for recovery of a threatened endangered species. TSCRA also supports stronger legal protections for private landowners that would:

--Provide fair compensation if property rights and/or land is taken under the ESA;

--Better protect confidential information provided by landowners regarding species presence, data collection, and voluntary program participation; and

--Provide a stronger burden of proof and evidence requirements to be placed on those petitioning species to be listed as threatened and endangered.