The Mountain Plover is an endangered species that spends most of its time in the Great Plains all the way to Canada in North America. Much like other birds, the decline in mountain plover populations is due to habitat loss and urban development. Agriculture, oil, and gas development are also other contributors to the population decline. It has now been caught in a political debate. In California, two environmental groups, the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and the Forest Guardians, have filed a suit to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The groups are saying that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has failed the mountain plover by refusing to put it on the endangered species list. According to the two groups, the plover was supposed to be put on the list in 2003, but it was subsequently denied. A possible reason for the denial was President Bush’s interference with the Endangered Species Act. This would mean that the mountain plover was not added to the list for political reasons, where lobbyists affect the Endangered Species Act in a negative way. The lobbyists do not understand the science behind needing to put an animal on the list, therefore they cannot help the animal.
Lauren McCain of the Forest Guardians in Denver states “the mountain plover case reflects a pattern of denying endangered species protection for purely political reasons. We’ve seen this with many other species, including the Gunnison’s prairie dog. Corporate lobbyists are currently dictating endangered species policy, not sound science.”
In Utah, the mountain plover has gone extinct due to oil and gas development. If that doesn’t mean it should be on the list, then what does?
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