v16_2005e - 70 Jonathan C. Borck 4 DECISION-MAKING IN...

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70 Jonathan C. Borck 7 4 Jonathan C. Borck is a Ph.D. candidate at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (jonathan_borck@ksgphd.harvard.edu). D ECISION -M AKING IN E NDANGERED S PECIES M ANAGEMENT Jonathan C. Borck This paper examines decisions made by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, to protect species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to fund their recovery. Using a data set that includes scienti±c, economic, and political variables on vertebrates from 1989 to 1997, this paper estimates a variety of regression models of the listing and funding decisions. Although required by law to consider only scienti±c factors such as species’ vulnerability in its decision-making, FWS appears instead to favor visceral characteristics, such as species’ taxonomic class and size. Both criteria are defensible. Nonetheless, the paper recommends that FWS and its partner agencies acknowledge and try to resolve the inconsistencies between their legal obligations and their actual behavior to ensure more effective implementation of this important piece of environmental legislation. I NTRODUCTION The rare and fragile [piping plover], protected by federal law, has been caught in the middle of an expensive and nasty legal cross±re in this pleasant coastal town about 20 miles south of Atlantic City. On one side are town of±cials, boaters and many taxpayers. On the other are the United States attorney for New Jersey and two other federal agencies determined to protect nesting plovers on a barren peninsula at the southern
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71 Decision-Making in Endangered Species Management tip of town. ... The federal Fish and Wildlife Service has been zealous in protecting any of the plovers spotted along the At- lantic Coast since they were placed under the safeguards of the United States Endangered Species Act in 1986. In 2002, 138 pairs of the birds were seen along the Jersey Shore ( The New York Times , May 7, 2003). A coalition of environmental groups sued the National Marine Fisheries Service over its decision not to list the struggling Puget Sound killer whale population under the Endangered Species Act. The service had ruled that while the orcas are genetically distinct and could be extinct within a century, they did not constitute a “signi±cant population segment” and were not eligible for endangered-species protection. The service has pro- posed listing the orcas as a “depleted species” under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, but the environmentalists say only the endangered-species law would ensure protection of the whales’ habitat in Puget Sound. The suit contends the service ignored important aspects of killer whale biology and culture ( The New York Times , December 19, 2002). The 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA), a landmark piece of environ-
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v16_2005e - 70 Jonathan C. Borck 4 DECISION-MAKING IN...

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