Group Wants Trumpeters Protected;
hprescott at igc.org
Mon Jun 9 11:39:43 EDT 2003
Group Wants Trumpeters Protected; Hunting season: Keeping the swans
off of the endangered species list makes them fair game
Matthew Baker , The Salt Lake Tribune
Trumpeter swan advocates are calling foul.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has presented findings that disregard
science, which is keeping trumpeter swans off the endangered species
according to a complaint filed last week by an environmental group.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) contends the
Fish and Wildlife Service's findings violate the Data Quality Act by
failing to use
widely accepted scientific knowledge about trumpeter swans.
Keeping trumpeters off the endangered species list means it's still
shoot trumpeter swans during Utah's tundra swan hunt. It also means
trumpeters will face more challenges in re-establishing migratory
patterns that bring the birds into northern Utah.
"The Fish and Wildlife Service is required to use the best scientific
literature and to interpret it accurately," said Eric Wingerter, field
for PEER. "They missed the mark on both of those."
The problem is that politics, not biology, are dictating the Fish &
Service trumpeter policy, Wingerter said. "It's pretty clear that they
predetermined conclusion and they created a report that came to the
conclusions that they wanted."
The Bush administration doesn't want scientists coming to independent
conclusions, Wingerter said. "In this administration they seem to be
sacrifice science to support their inherent biases."
The Fish & Wildlife Service says politics have nothing to do with
findings. Bob Trost, who wrote the environmental assessment on the swan
hunt, says the only pressure he has felt came from swan advocates.
"The allegations that politics have played a role here are completely
unfounded," Trost said.
The lawsuit that prompted the Fish & Wildlife Service findings was a
designate the tri-state population of trumpeters (Idaho, Montana and
Wyoming) as a separate population from the Canadian trumpeters.
(Although referred to as the tri-state population, these are the same
trumpeters that show up in northern Utah and are occasionally shot
during the tundra swan hunt.)
The designation as a "distinct population segment" is necessary for
trumpeter to gain protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Although this designation does not guarantee the trumpeters'
without it protection is not possible because, while the tri-state
declining, the overall population of trumpeters in North America is on
The Fish & Wildlife Service findings categorized the tri-state
the Canadian trumpeters as one population.
The findings are an about-face for the Fish & Wildlife Service, said
Lococo, Rocky Mountain coordinator for the Fund For Animals, one of the
organizations who filed the lawsuit.
"For years the agency itself has recognized the distinctness of that
population," Lococo said. "Now they want to open a hunting season, so
they have changed their minds."
The Fish & Wildlife Service says hunting had nothing to do with their
findings and that hunting has not hurt the trumpeter population.
If anyone has an interest in preserving populations of trumpeter
swans, it is
sport hunters, Trost said. "I don't think there is anyone more concerned
the long-term preservation of this population than this group of
"There is a strong history of hunting swans in Utah and we don't want
change that unless there is strong biological evidence," Trost said.
A draft environmental assessment, which is nearly identical to past
assessments, is currently open for public comment.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has 45 days to reply to the complaints
PEER. If not satisfied with the response, PEER could file a formal suit.
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