Babbitt Endangers Facts as Peregrine Falcon Soars from Federal Shackles

Washington, DC, August 23, 1999 – The Peregrine Falcon – renowned for its 200 mph dives when it attacks prey – has been removed from the federal Endangered Species List. As this awe-inspiring bird of prey soars ever-higher, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt falsely attributes its recovery from near extinction to the Endangered Species Act. “There is simply no credibility whatsoever to Secretary Babbitt’s truly outrageous, and indeed offensive, statement that this is ‘one of the most dramatic success stories of the Endangered Species Act,’” commented Robert J. Smith, Senior Environmental Scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

Since its inception in 1973, the Endangered Species Act has proven to be ineffective and misguided in its attempt to protect and recover species. The ESA attempts to protect and recover a species by protecting its habitat. In doing so, it regulates or severely limits the use of property with habitat used by a listed species. Across the nation, people have experienced tremendous property losses as a result of this policy. Because people are fearful of losing all or a portion of the use of their property, they become fearful of protecting habitat and recovering endangered species. Due to this perverse incentive structure, the law has been a disaster for wildlife and people.

Rather than federal protection efforts, the recovery of this fierce predator is a proud accomplishment of private conservation efforts – most notably the Peregrine Fund, a private conservation organization located in Boise, Idaho. After nearly thirty years of effort, the Peregrine Fund, through the work of thousands of people in voluntary association and private action, can celebrate this happy ending for the Peregrine Falcon. By 1997, the captive breeding and release programs of the Peregrine Fund and others restored the Peregrine Falcon throughout most of its original range.

Smith concludes, “Secretary Babbitt finally had to jump on board the Peregrine Fund’s victory train, since it had left the station without him. This is a time to celebrate the recovery of the Peregrine Falcon and the efforts of private conservation. It is not a time to recognize a law that is without any basis in species protection and recovery.”

CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 209.