The National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 could influence Endangered Species Act enforcement
We often hear about climate change and its causes on the news as well as most forms of social media. What these stories fail to tell you is that the health of a whole ecosystem is an important part of climate change and its mitigation.
The Lion King is a perfect visual of how our environment works. In the movie, Mufasa dies and ultimately Scar becomes king of the Pride Land. As a result, the hyenas are left unchecked and all other animals start to run out of food and water until Simba returns and fights for the life of the animals in the kingdom.
In some ways, the government is Mufasa and the people are Simba, fighting for the survival of all species. The most recent example is seen in the presented changes to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. Members of Congress have submitted a rider that would remove sage grouse from the endangered species list for 10 years. The Endangered Species Act was created to prevent these kinds of actions from occurring. By reading Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, you find that:
Without diving further into this section, it’d be easy to cry foul and demand the NDAA remove the rider for 2019. Unfortunately, that is not the case, regardless of personal feelings about the change. The Act was well thought out and addressed the need for exemptions for almost any situation. For Instance, Section 7(j) states that an exemption can be granted if the Secretary of Defense finds the exemption is necessary for reasons of national security. Our military is using this clause to force the removal of sage grouse from the endangered species list by stating the area will be used for military operations.
What the military fails to understand is that sage grouse habitat is important to other animals. Mule deer use the same habitat during the winter. Twice a year, mule deer migrate between winter and summer ranges. The sage grouse habitat in question contains a winter habitat for mule deer. The only chance of the military not receiving an exemption would be from the full implementation of Secretarial Order 3362, signed by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. This order requires federal agencies to collaborate with states to determine guidelines for improved management of winter ranges and migration corridors.
Mule deer have used the same migration routes for hundreds of years. As do elk and whitetail deer. The failure to act on the preservation of other species should be enough to prevent the changes to the National Defense Authorization Act. We’ve depended upon animals for food since the beginning of time. Without them, we lose our heritage and we lose control over our right to choose where our food comes from. If someone chooses to hunt their own food that is free from antibiotics, then that shouldn’t be infringed upon. Same with growing vegetables. Everyone should have the freedom to choose seeds that have not been genetically tampered with.
The Wildlife Conservation Society released a study in May 2018 that revealed how much human activities have already degraded wildlife habitat. Currently, a third of the world’s protected areas have seen habitat destruction from the building of roads and intense urbanization. We hear about climate change and various opinions on how to stop or reverse its effects but we hear little about the causes of climate change. It’s more than pollution. Changing anything in an ecosystem has a domino effect beyond what can be seen. Each change leads to a bigger change and will eventually become irreversible. Instead of trying to change our environment to fit our needs, we need to change our needs to fit our environment. Any system that is thrown off balance will fail in the end.