By The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Aug. 16, 2019 6:51 pm ET
A polar bear keeps close to her young along the Beaufort Sea coast in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. PHOTO: HANDOUT ./REUTERS
Perhaps you’ve been reading that the Trump Administration wants to make it easier to eliminate polar bears, spotted owls and other species from the face of the earth. As ever in Donald Trump ’s Washington, the reality is different, so allow us to explain. The uproar concerns a proposed new rule to revise some practices under the 1973 Endangered Species Act. For all the praise liberals shower on that law, it has achieved far less than advertised. A 2018 report from the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Gordon found that since 1973 the ESA has helped to recover only 40 species, and nearly half of those were mistakenly listed in the first place. Meanwhile, the law has become a legal weapon to strip property rights and block millions of acres from private development. Congress ought to rewrite the ESA but can’t break a partisan impasse. So this week Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tried to clarify regulation under the law to prevent abuses. The new rule restores Congress’s original two-tiered approach, killing the Fish and Wildlife Service’s “blanket rule” that treated “endangered” and “threatened” species alike. This will devote scarce government dollars—and landowner attention—to the species most at risk. It will also provide states more flexibility to assist species that are struggling though not seriously endangered. The new rules clarify vague terms such as “the foreseeable future” to mean only as far as the government can “reasonably determine” a danger of extinction. This will make it harder for activists to use claims of vague future climate damage to declare many more species endangered. And the rules remind regulators they must use the same five criteria in deciding whether to delist a species as they did when listing one—destruction of habitat or range; overutilization; disease; inadequate regulation; or other natural or manmade factors. This will guard against special interests that move the goalposts every time a recovered population is proposed to be cleared. Another reform would limit the use of “critical habitat” designations that tie up tens of millions of acres of U.S. land. The rules reinstate a requirement that agencies first evaluate acreage that contain the at-risk species before considering new, unoccupied areas. Agencies also must prove that unoccupied critical habitat contains “one or more of the physical or biological features essential to the species’ conservation.”
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Amanda Wuestefeld, who has worked full-time in the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife for more than 25 years, was promoted to division director this week. Wuestefeld replaces Mark Reiter, who retired in July. She is the first woman to hold the position for Indiana DNR Fish & Wildlife (DFW). For the past five years, Wuestefeld (pronounced WEE-sta-feld) has served as the assistant division director.
Before that, she served as the Hoosier Outdoor Heritage coordinator for eight years. In that capacity, she led the launch of the division’s first hunting recruitment program to introduce young adults to the sport.
Wuestefeld, who holds a B.S. in Wildlife Science from Purdue University, also served as the DFW’s Go FishIN coordinator for eight years. In that role, she led a program responsible for teaching thousands of participants the sport of fishing and oversaw the development and 2005 opening of the Fishin’ Pond at the Indiana State Fair. She started her DNR career in 1991 while still a college student as an intermittent employee at Hardy Lake, bringing her combined part-time and full-time service at DNR to 28 years.
“It has been an honor to work beside some of Indiana’s most dedicated staff at DNR and I look forward to this next chapter in my career to continue working to ensure great public access to our fish and wildlife resources,” Wuestefeld said. Wuestefeld grew up in the town of Commiskey in Jennings County, spending her leisure time fishing, hunting, camping and boating. A lifelong Hoosier, she has dedicated her life to conservation both personally and professionally through her love of the outdoors and enjoys sharing her passion for conservation with others. One of the ways she has done so is by mentoring young outdoor enthusiasts, including those new to hunting, fishing and even mushroom hunting.
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The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies was pleased to see biologists from several Midwestern states, members of Wisconsin Tribal Nations, plus state and federal conservation groups meet last month to discuss chronic wasting disease (CWD) management and research efforts across the region. The goal of this meeting was to determine best practices for working together across state borders to prevent the spread of CWD.
“The Association is eager to see the results from this Midwest CWD Collaboration Meeting and hope it will help the states combat this devastating wildlife health issue,” said Ed Carter, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease that affects members of the deer family and is one of the biggest challenges facing our nation’s wildlife today.”
Chronic Wasting Disease is a 100% fatal disease of deer, elk, moose, reindeer, and other species of the family Cervidae which continues to spread across North America, with reported cases now in 26 states and 3 Canadian provinces. In addition to the obvious detriment to the health of the deer herds, the economic loss to state and local communities due to decreased hunter participation can be substantial. Further, the increased administrative cost to wildlife agencies in combatting the disease reduces funding normally allocated to other wildlife species.
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science- based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.
The Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA) today announced its support of the CWD Collaboration Workshop being held this week in Madison, WI. MAFWA President Kelly Hepler, Secretary of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, said, “CWD is one of the most critically important issues facing fish and wildlife directors today and into the future. We thank Wisconsin for organizing this workshop.”
The Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA) was formed in 1934 to provide a common forum for state and provincial fish and wildlife agencies to share ideas, information, pool resources, and form action initiatives to better the management and conservation of fish and wildlife resources in the Midwest. MAFWA represents 13 state and 3 provincial Midwest fish and wildlife agencies.
CWD has been detected in 12 of MAFWAs 16 states and provinces. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death.
Leonard N. Fleming, The Detroit News Published 9:42 p.m. ET May 19, 2019
The DNA of six Asian carp were detected in Illinois just a few miles from the shore of Lake Michigan, sounding alarm bells among those hoping to keep the invasive species out of the Great Lakes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week announced that the environmental DNA (eDNA) of three bighead carp and three silver carp were found in Lake Calumet, south of Chicago near the Indiana border. It is unclear if any actual fish were found, officials monitoring the situation said. An Asian carp, jolted by an electric current from a research boat, jumps from the Illinois River near Havana, Illinois, in 2012. Researchers reported last week that carp DNA has been found in Lake Calumet in Illinois, just a few miles from Lake Michigan. (Photo: John Flesher / AP file) “The finding of bighead and silver carp eDNA in Lake Calumet, just a few miles from Lake Michigan, is troubling news,” said Molly Flanagan, the vice president of policy for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, an environmental organization dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes. “It’s a stark reminder that we don’t have time to waste. While the agencies continue monitoring and assessing the status of Asian carp, we need to move quickly with the construction of additional Asian carp protections at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam.” Jennifer Caddick, the vice president of communications and engagement for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, said this isn’t an indication that Asian carp are in the Great Lakes but the eDNA findings show the fish were close by. “It’s sort of a warning light,” she said. Caddick said there are still a series of locks before leading into Lake Michigan from Lake Calumet Advocates seeking to protect the Great Lakes have long been trying to keep the invasive species out of the system. Illinois officials have been discussing a stronger lock and dam system aimed at to protect Lake Michigan from Asian carp. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also has weighed in on federal plans to keep carp out of the Great Lakes with some support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to install fish-blocking devices at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow released a statement about the latest development, saying “news once again demonstrates the urgent need to take action to stop Asian carp” from entering the Great Lakes. “I will continue leading bipartisan efforts to ensure sufficient funding to monitor, detect, and take emergency actions against this threat,” she said. “At the same time, the Army Corps and the administration must finally send Congress comprehensive plans for Brandon Road while also pursuing every possible option to prevent Asian carp from entering and wreaking havoc on the Great Lakes.”