Washington, DC April 4, 2001 – Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Environmental Scholar Robert J. Smith will testify tomorrow on the federal Wildlife Species at Risk Act (C-5) before the House of Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Mr. Smith will provide an American perspective on endangered species protection, highlighting the problems and unintended consequences of the United States’ own Endangered Species Act (ESA).<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The Species at Risk Act, now being considered by the House of Commons, has pitted advocates against landowners and those who make their living in the natural resource industry. Opponents of the Act have taken issue with the excessive fines – up to $1,000,000 per violation, even for accidental or unintended acts – and the government’s half-hearted commitment to compensating property owners for loss of productive use to their property as a result of complying with the Act.
As Mr. Smith will testify, the Act, if implemented, will likely create many of the same problems that have plagued the enforcement of the US Endangered Species Act. The harsh provisions of the ESA have created a climate where the presence of a listed species is often treated as a dangerous threat, especially for small landowners who would be financially ruined if they were to inadvertently run afoul of the ESA’s provisions.
In addition, despite generating high administrative costs and large amounts of suspicion and ill will in rural areas, the ESA has never been shown to be responsible for the recovery of a threatened or endangered species. Plants and animals are just as likely to leave the government’s list by going extinct as by increasing their numbers to healthy levels. Private conservation efforts have been far more effective at encouraging the recovery of endangered species than the kind of bureaucratic nightmare that the United States has experienced and that Canada in contemplating.
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