Strength in Numbers: Setting Quantitative Criteria for Listing Species Under the Endangered Species Act
University of Akron School of Law
October 28, 2012
UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Vol. 27, No. 1, 2009
U of Akron Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-08
My primary thesis is that the Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service need to set quantitative criteria for listing species under the Endangered Species Act in order to promote consistency, transparency, and efficiency. I suggest a model for doing so, the use of which would create an opportunity to move beyond the political quagmire surrounding the selection of vulnerable species for preservation. Like my other environmental scholarship, the article merges scientific research in the field of conservation biology with legal analysis. With the status quo, listing decisions often turn on wildly different factors, including some not contemplated by the Act. While the Act on its face treats all species equally, regardless of popularity with humans, in reality these decisions can be highly politicized. Although this process is necessarily an ad hoc one, some degree of consistency can be achieved by setting certain thresholds and methods. Taking into account the criteria used in the international community for the IUCN Red List, combined with the relevant scientific literature on population viability analysis, I propose a set of thresholds that function according to the varying life cycles of different species. I also address the arguments that have been used to defend the present highly subjective process.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: endangered species, ESA, biodiversity, wildlife, endangered species act, iucnAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 19, 2009 ; Last revised: October 30, 2012
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