I love rare birds, and was dismayed a couple months ago when the USFWS decided not to list the Gunnison Sage Grouse as an endangered species. If a bird with a tiny range and a population of only 5,000 individuals (in a good year) doesn't count as endangered, I don't know what does.
While the Endangered Species Act has some problems--most notably the government doesn't enforce it enough, there is a movement afoot to get rid of the Endangered Species Act as we know it. Called "cooperative conservation", this would make endangered species protection voluntary, rather than mandatory. While I'm all in favor of voluntary action, and decided against a career in environmental law because I'd rather encourage people to do the right thing, rather than suing them to do it, sometimes you need the stick to go along with the carrot, and taking the teeth out of the Endangered Species Act will not help any endangered or threatened bird. A "voluntary" Endangered Species Act would be about as effective as a voluntary sales tax.
So, why post this on PA Birds? Those within the federal government who would like to stir up support for gutting the Endangered Species Act are staging road shows all across the country to try and sell their ideas and make a show of support, and that show may be coming to a community near you sometime in the next couple of months. If you care about rare and threatened birds, find a session near you, mark your calendar and do what you have to in order to get to this meeting and make a public comment in support of a strong Endangered Species Act.
I know we'd all rather be out birding, but if we don't stand up for the birds when we get a chance, someday there just won't be as many of the cool birds we'd all really like to see. If birders won't stand up for rare birds, who will?
For more info on the public meetings, see:
For more info on this "cooperative conservation" movement, see:
More on these sessions from the Endangered Species Coalition (here).
While the website says that meeting attendance and commenting is first come, first served, and that speakers can only sign up at the session, word on the street is that there may be some dirty behind-the-scenes stuff going on to stack the speaker list in advance. So get there early, and if you aren't allowed to speak, let the world know about it.
There, I've said it. Now back to birding!