SCB Comments on Problematic Policy Interpretation on "Significant Portion of Its Range"

March 8, 2012.  Today, the Society for Conservation Biology submitted extensive comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the Services’ draft policy defining the phrase “significant portion of its range.”  Because the U.S. Endangered Species Act allows the Services to list species as threatened or endangered based on threats “throughout all or a significant portion” of a species’ range, it is critically important that this definition be based on the best available scientific research in order to effectively conserve biodiversity.

SCB outlined several areas where the Services’ draft policy appears to ignore several key principles from the field of conservation biology.  Most importantly, the policy appears to ignore the basic purpose of the ESA, which clearly envisions protecting declining species, and the ecosystems on which they depend, before they become threatened or endangered with extinction globally, and to restore such threatened species that have been extirpated from significant portions of their historic range.

The comments were approved by the Society’s global Policy Committee, which includes conservation scientists and other experts in a wide range of the sciences and law, and filed on behalf of the Society’s North America and Marine Sections.

The text of SCB’s comments can be found HERE.