Score one for mopping up after corruption! CNN.com reports that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is reversing seven rulings
"that denied endangered species increased protection, after an investigation found the actions were tainted by political pressure from a former senior Interior Department official.Julie MacDonald, the USFWS deputy assistant director at the time, pressured scientists to alter their findings in favor of certain industries that would use the protected land in other ways (i.e. building development). The Union of Concerned Scientists stated that these seven reversals "does not begin to plumb the depths of what's wrong" at the wildlife agency and its implementation of the Endangered Species Act. They have collected 30 cases of direct interference by USFWS over the last 7 years. Including (my favorite) delisting the splittail, a fish found only the California's Central Valley where MacDonald owned an 80 acre farm. Hmm...
In a letter to Rep. Nick Rahall, D-West Virginia., the agency acknowledged that the actions had been "inappropriately influenced" and that "revising the seven identified decisions is supported by scientific evidence and the proper legal standards." The reversal affects the protection for species including the white-tailed prairie dog, the Preble's meadow jumping mouse and the Canada lynx."
Also included is critical habitat designation for the only invertebrate considered in these reversals, the stunningly gorgeous Hawai'ian picture-wing fly or Nalo Kihikihi in hawai'ian (Drosophila heteroneura, above from USFWS website). The Center of Biological Diversity reports on the threats for this backboneless beauty:
"Seventeen or more species may already be extinct and as many as 50 may be in serious decline. The hammerhead, for example, formerly occurred at 16 sites on four of the island of Hawaii’s five volcanoes. It disappeared from every site and was feared extinct until rediscovered at a single site on the Hualalai volcano in 1993.
Hawaii picture-wings have declined because of habitat destruction and the loss of their host plants. Remaining picture-wing species are threatened by degradation of their habitat by feral animals and invasive plants, loss of host plants, predation by introduced yellow jackets and ants, cattle grazing, and fire."