On the 50th Anniversary Year of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Endangered Species Coalition, of which Buffalo Field Campaign is a member, sojourned to Washington, D.C. early this month to verify Keystone ESA protective actions and Management Actions will be put in place as signed into law and that Buffalo will be given an ethical and transparent Science-Based review of their ESA Candidacy.
40% of all Animal Species are at risk of Extinction with 41% of Ecosystems at risk of complete Habitat-level collapse with Temperate Grasslands or the Great Plains among the most threatened of Ecosystems. With Buffalo as the Driver as the Keystone Species of Grasslands, we spoke with the Senate and the House of Representatives including Senator Jon Tester, Senators Booker (NJ) and Whitehouse (RI), who are forming a 2023 Congressional ESA Caucus, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries among 3 days of meetings with over 20 Representative Meetings! We were able to discuss the effectiveness of the ESA since implementation and I was able to then introduce the current failure of USFWS to place and protect new Species through the Act or utilize Science in their Findings.
We also had the opportunity through our Agenda to meet with the Director of the USFWS, Martha Williams, and the CEQ, who introduced a new Staff Member, to us, in [her] first two weeks on the job, dedicated to Wildlife and Endangered Species. Even with the air of new successes (including a proposed 25% USFWS Budget increase) and a ppm detection, Director Williams faced a Coalition, of which they had voluntarily decided to partner with this year to Celebrate the Endangered Species Act at 50, ESA@50 (including attending most of our meetings), hostilely limiting words and offering not a prepared statement or insight. Blaming NOAA for not being able to move forward on Management Plans, I asked, why, as Director, she did not have a Staff member (or Leadership) from NOAA present at this meeting through which she could not give a logical reply. The Director also claimed that she could not discuss Wolves because they were in Litigation even as testimony is being given before the House Natural Resources Committee, today, on multiple pieces of Legislation to delist Wolves and Grizzly Bears.
So even as we face the ultimate great news of the March 3rd Department of Interior Announcement from Sec. Haaland of $25 million for Re-Introduction of Buffalo to Tribal Lands, we, as the Buffalo Field Campaign, must ask the hard questions to the Head of the Department of the Interior:
- Before we celebrate, what work is being done on the ground to remove the burdensome quarantine and cull protocols that currently threaten the last, continuous Wild Herds of Buffalo?
- Successful, generational breeding of small Herds being Re-Introduced requires a buffer against Climate Change, Water scarcity, habitat succession interval time, (and Honorable Harvest preparation). What, as the Head of the Department of the Interior, are you doing to protect on a Landscape Level, these new Herds from Local Extinction? When I walked out of Washington, D.C, you had just approved the Willow Project.
- Co-Management provides a seat at the table. What say do the Indigenous Communities that are receiving Buffalo have in Fossil Fuel Oil/Gas Projects and the Mining Projects that currently threaten Communities?
- What Science did you analyze in order to provide Genetically Diverse Bulls and Family Groups to Tribal Lands? How will that Science be used to protect the Herds of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem?