AUSTIN, TX – One week after Texans for Positive Economic Policy, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Reason Foundation presented new scientific evidence on the status of the golden-cheeked warbler, multiple leaders encouraged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify the songbird.
“This outpouring of support shows the respect people have for legitimate research and its necessary role in guiding effective government policy,” said Susan Combs, one of the petitions original signers. “We welcome their inputs and hope USFW will consider this support as they formulate their response to our petition.”
News of the petition gathered support from leaders across the spectrum including:
The Texas Wildlife Association:
“Texas Wildlife Association has been involved with this species listing from the beginning, and we are very proud of the private landowners of Texas whose individual conservation efforts make de-listing the Golden-Cheeked Warbler a real possibility.”
David K. Langford, Director Emeritus, Past Executive Director
“The Texas Association of Business firmly supports the petition to delist the Golden Cheeked Warbler under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It would be difficult to calculate the total costs of the ESA listing of the Golden Cheeked Warbler to property owners, businesses and local governments in Central Texas. Decisions to list a species under the ESA must be made carefully and deliberately and only when a thorough assessment of the best scientific evidence clearly supports the decision. The listing of the Golden Cheeked Warbler was a decision reached in haste and was not based on adequate scientific evidence. We now know that both the availability of habitat for the warbler and the size of the species’ population have been grossly underestimated. As a matter of fact, the species is not endangered. As a matter of law, it must no longer be listed as such.
"I support any effort to ensure that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviews species that have been listed to determine whether best available science continues to support that listing. Since the warbler was listed 25 years ago, significant conservation efforts and research have occurred; scrutiny of the benefits of these efforts is important to minimizing the impact of the Endangered Species Act on the economy of the state of Texas.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the golden-cheeked warbler under the Endangered Species Act in 1990 on an emergency basis, erroneously believing that the species was in danger of extinction and that its best breeding habitat was primarily limited to Travis County, Texas. This conclusion was based on ten-year-old satellite mapping and an inaccurate study of warbler density conducted 14 years prior.
Since then, new, thorough, and accurate data indicates the warbler’s habitat and population are much greater than the FWS believed in 1990. Unfortunately, during its erroneous tenure as an endangered species, the warbler has been used to restrict landowners’ use of their property and jeopardized military training.
Recent studies, including two by Texas A&M University, show that the amount of warbler habitat is five times larger and that the warbler population is roughly 19 times greater than the earlier FWS estimate. As a result, the three parties are advocating for a classification change.
In the years since the classification was issued and a recovery plan published, the FWS has admitted that the science behind its decision is outmoded. This newer, more accurate data clearly indicates that the species does not meet the Endangered Species Act’s definition of “endangered” or “threatened,” nor is it “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,” as the law requires. Unfortunately, the FWS has made no move to change the warbler’s status to reflect this reality, which is why this petition is necessary.
ABOUT TEXANS FOR POSITIVE ECONOMIC POLICY
Texans for Positive Economic Policy (TPEP) is devoted to promoting, among other objectives, the use of sound science in protecting endangered species. Over the past 20 years, Texas has created a national model for funding objective, peer-reviewed science to deal with the Endangered Species Act and thereby assure protection of both the species and the economy. TPEP works to promote the use of sound science in the study of species and habitat by helping to secure funding for research, study, and analysis. TPEP has a key organizational interest in promoting the use of objective, peer-reviewed science in listing and delisting decisions. TPEP supports local and state conservation efforts for the warbler rather than the unnecessary federal listing of the warbler under the Endangered Species Act.
ABOUT THE TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute, whose mission is to promote and defend liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise in Texas and the nation by educating and affecting policymakers and the Texas public policy debate with academically sound research and outreach. The Foundation’s research fellows regularly testify before the U.S. Congress and Texas legislature on environmental and endangered species issues. This delisting petition supports the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to promote the use of academically sound research in federal regulatory decisions. The Foundation supports state and local conservation efforts as being of greater benefit to the warbler and that continued regulation under the Endangered Species Act can impede voluntary and local conservation efforts.
ABOUT THE REASON FOUNDATION
Reason Foundation was founded in 1978 and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Reason Foundation’s nonpartisan public policy research promotes choice, competition, and a dynamic market economy as the foundation for human dignity and progress. Reason produces rigorous, peer-reviewed research and directly engages in the policy process, seeking strategies that emphasize cooperation, flexibility, local knowledge, transparency, accountability, and results. This delisting petition is consistent with Reason’s mission to encourage voluntary efforts to support conservation using peer-reviewed research and to discourage unwarranted federal regulation of species.