It’s no secret the current U.S. president is a fan of business and looking out for the interests of the wealthy, and less of a “bleeding heart” when it comes to protecting wildlife and the environment.
Those traits are undoubtedly why Donald Trump has had his government scrub words like “climate change,” and even the term “science” from official websites, while also cancelling carbon monitoring research programs, pulling out of the Paris climate agreement and championing the U.S. fossil fuels industry.
Obviously these types of moves, which are being tracked in depth as they happen over at National Geographic, will affect the environment in more ways than one—and that includes wildlife. But there are also seven specific moves the current U.S. administration has introduced over the past two years that have a direct impact on animals. Take a look.
Taking away protection from threatened species
In early April the U.S. Department of the Interior proposed removing a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) policy that has existed since the 1970s and basically allows threatened species to automatically receive the full protection of the Endangered Species Act. If the removal goes ahead, environmental groups are concerned hundreds of threatened species that aren’t yet facing the threat of extinction but could would be in jeopardy. We’re talking animals like the northern spotted owl, the southern sea otter and the spotted seal, to name a few.
Supporting the return of grizzlies in North Cascades
Cattlemen weren’t happy in early March when the government announced its support for the return of the grizzly bear to the North Cascades. The details are still being hammered out, but U.S. officials are supposedly working on a plan to get the bears back to the ecosystem that should be ready by the end of the year. It’s worth noting that Obama’s administration had previously announced a three-year recovery study, one that was halted by Trump and co. in 2017.
Making accidental bird deaths legal
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) is one of the U.S.’s oldest and most impacting environmental protections, since it was devised to save birds from overhunting. In total, it’s supposed to keep more than 1,025 migratory bird species and their eggs, feathers and nests safe. However, in December 2017 the current administration decided the MBTA wording, “at any time, or in any manner,” included accidental but foreseeable bird deaths from industrial activity. So they made “accidental” bird deaths from things like wind turbines or power lines legal, encouraging harmful development in the process.
Relaxed protection on the sage grouse
While Obama’s administration had a conservation plan in place to protect the greater sage grouse, Trump’s own Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke has opted to lessen those protections in order to increase energy production on federal lands. Because, priorities.
Made it legal to bring elephant trophies back to the States
Trump may have originally supported Obama’s ban on bringing elephant parts back to the United States as trophies, but then his government quietly made it legal to do exactly that. A memorandum from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in early March withdrew previous rulings on trophy hunting, saying it would instead give sport hunters permits for trophy items on a case-by-case-basis.
Stopped a rule that protected whales and sea turtles from fishing nets
It may sound perfectly reasonable that if, within a two-year period, any two individual endangered whales or sea turtles—or any combination of four bottlenose dolphins or short-finned pilot whales—were killed or seriously injured in a fishing net, the swordfish gill net fishery would be closed for up to two years. Apparently the current government did not think so though, because in June 2017 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division announced the rule is no longer necessary thanks to new nets and less fishermen.
Delayed classifying the rusty patched bumblebee as endangered
Save the bees may be a thing for Cheerios, but it wasn’t an immediate concern for President Trump. Over the past two decades the bee’s population has nosedived nearly 90 per cent, resulting in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to class the species as endangered. But while conversationalists were ready to jump to the bees’ defense, Trump and co. delayed the classification by more than a month while they reviewed any and all regulations from Obama’s term that hadn’t yet gone into effect.