Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe
Goal: Ensure that a rare beetle continues to receive Endangered Species Act protection
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to take away Endangered Species Act protection for the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, despite scientific data which contradicts the agency’s claims that the beetles no longer need assistance. Environmentalists argue that the Service is being motivated by politics instead of sound scientific data. The agency is poised to publish a final rule to delist the species in the near future. Urge Service Director Dan Ashe to dismiss attempts to move forward with the delisting process.
The beetle was listed as a threatened species in 1980. They are dependent on elderberry host plants, which continue to disappear along California’s Central Valley rivers, and are imperiled because of forest clearing for agriculture and urban development, livestock grazing, invasive predators and pesticide use.
The delisting proposal relied on factually inaccurate comment letters by lobbyists for a real estate developer, which provided justification to change a 2006 five-year review recommendation from “no change” to “delist.” Opponents claim this was a politically based rather than science-based review. The Service had an independent scientific peer review panel evaluate the proposed rule, and these reviewers concluded that the scientific foundation of the proposal is unsound because the agency’s conclusions are based on faulty data, unsupported assumptions, and misinterpreted information.
The peer reviewers disputed the Service’s assertion that 26 locations currently host the elderberry beetle, noting that this claim is based on old and unreliable data. Many records rely on sightings of exit holes from trees rather than actual beetle sightings. The Service also minimized increasing predatory threats to beetles and ignored evidence that elderberry beetle host plants have stopped reproducing along dammed rivers.
The delisting of the Valley elderberry longhorn beetle is rooted in politics, not science. The Fish and Wildlife Service is seemingly more concerned with real estate development profits than with the wildlife they should be protecting. Urge Service Director Ashe to reconsider the delisting proposal and help this species continue its recovery.
Dear Director Ashe,
I am writing to urge you to reconsider delisting the Valley elderberry longhorn beetle and removing Endangered Species Act protection. Scientific data does not warrant such measures and, in fact, shows that the beetles’ habitat continues to disappear from the environment.
The Service has pointed to an increase in the number of beetle locations, yet this is based on faulty data and the agency’s decision to arbitrarily change the definition of what constitutes a location. Many of the records being used to propose the delisting are based on old and unreliable records.
The push to delist the species appears to be politically motivated and this is contradictory to the Service’s mission. I urge you to give as much consideration to this imperiled species as you give to the real estate developers who have lobbied against the protective measures.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia Commons