Congressional attacks on bedrock environmental laws are sadly nothing new. What is new, however, is the overwhelming magnitude and targeted nature of this recent wave of attacks. They are clearly intended to undermine the strength of lands, water and wildlife protections and would have disastrous implications for the future of conservation in the U.S.
Keystone predators, such as wolves, control prey numbers and behavior. On the lookout for wolves, wary elk eat more sparingly. This releases shrubs and saplings from browsing pressure, improves habitat for other species, and increases biodiversity. These cascading effects are based on powerful evolutionary relationships.
Obama has proposed a budget that would provide fewer dollars for protecting endangered species than the US spends on one Lockheed Martin F-35C fighter jet. Americans must let their representatives know that our single-greatest priority in the 21st century is the fight to save the biological diversity on which all life depends.
Today the HSUS and 21 other organizations petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to downlist wolves from "endangered" to "threatened" across most of their range in the lower 48 states. We took this action to maintain critical federal protections for the fragmented populations numbering just 5,000 or so wolves in the coterminous United States.
We rarely know the exact date and time an entire species goes extinct, but in the case of the passenger pigeon, we do. Martha, the very last of her species, took her final breath at the Cincinnati Zoo on September 1st 1914, marking the end of a species that was once the most abundant in North America. This was America's first infamous extinction.