NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

PROTECTING SPECIES THAT DON'T EXIST

November 4, 2004

A whopping 40 percent of species in the Endangered Species Act are not actually species --- rather, they are considered subspecies or local populations, says the Heartland Institute.

For example, the Preble's Meadow jumping mouse was listed as an endangered species in 1998, based on a 1954 study. Later analysis revealed that the mouse never really existed, but instead was a "cousin" to a non-endangered species, the Bear Lodge meadow jumping mouse.

Before the recent discovery, however:

  • Builders, landowners and local governments in the Great Plains spent $100 million on preserving said mouse over six years.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set aside 31,220 acres of land in Colorado and Wyoming as critical habitat for the mouse.

Furthermore, the Endangered Species Act has not lived up to its goal of protecting species that are legitimately endangered, says Heartland:

  • Jim Sims of the Partnership for the West notes that over 30 years, the ESA's failure rate in recovering species is 99 percent.
  • Only 12 of the 1,300 species listed have been recovered.

Source: Jay Lehr, "Mouse that Cost Economy $100 Million May Never Have Existed," Heartland Institute, August 2004.

 

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