Sunday, May 03, 2009

List the Red Knot

An op-ed in today's Home News Tribune argues for a quick listing of the Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa) under the Endangered Species Act.

Quick and emphatic action is needed, none more so than the immediate federal listing of the red knot as an endangered species. Regretably and unbelievably, that hasn't happened, despite overwhelming evidence that the red knot might otherwise disappear from this side of North America.

What are federal officials waiting for? Washington's listing would deliver the urgently needed protections and resources required to help the red knot recover and survive. Anything less invites disaster, is careless, unthinking and backward science.

A big part of the answer resides in the antiquated and stingy policies of the Bush administration. Though the Endangered Species Act was a bipartisan initiative, created in 1973 under President Richard Nixon, the Bush White House removed all funding for its implementation, neutering the law for a full eight years. What resulted isn't surprising: today there exists a logjam of troubled species that desperately need federal aid and attention.
Unfortunately there are currently 252 candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species List – a massive backlog by any measure. These are all species that the Interior Department has acknowledged are in need of assistance but has not listed due to lack of funds. So the Red Knot will continue to wait in line for the near future.