hills and mountains with their streams contain a diverse
array of creatures. Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker
Creek is a touching and insightful book about nature's
fecundity through the seasons.
Some of our flora and fauna
are endangered: http://www.endangeredspecie.com/...
The West Virginia Natural Heritage program conducts
an ongoing statewide ecological inventory of rare plant
and animal species, wetlands, and other biological communities.
The Nature Conservancy keeps track: http://www.heritage.tnc.org/...
A survey of states shows that West Virginia has the second
largest number of endangered species at 19 but Virginia
has 49. What is going on there? To view these
Biologists in the state's
Division of Natural Resources' Wildlife and Natural Heritage
Program monitor recovery programs for this state's endangered
species. The recovery program is mandated by federal law.
One of these species is the Virginia big-eared bat. About
half of the world's population (20,000 to 25,000) of these
bats live in three caves in West Virginia.
Sometimes efforts are made
to expand the list endngered species. Such is the case of
the cerulean warbler, whose color is as splendid as a pristine
Animal history. History
buffs may be familiar with the large diversity of animals
which populated West Virginia in pre-industrial days.
In Webster County is a road sign which documents the last
bison seen in the state.
The early history of European
exploration is one of unrestrained slaughter of animals
for food and fashion (furs). From the 1700s through
the 1850s hunting pressures were too great for the animal
population to withstand and the immense wealth of wildlife
shrunk to alarmingly small numbers. In the latter
half of the Nineteenth Century regret set in at the decimation
of native species of animals. State enforcement of wildlife
laws was inadequate.
George Grinnell, editor of
Forest and Stream and founder of the National Audobon
Society in 1886, pushed for interest groups to lobby Congress.
The Lacey Act of 1900, which prohibits interstate shipment
of wildlife in violation of state law, was the first federal
wildlife statute. Other new statutes followed.
The 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act prohibits the taking
without a federal permit of any species of bird protected
by the act.
differing viewpoints co-existed in the conservation movment
of the day. Gifford Pinchot, creator of the Forest
Service and head of Roosevelt's National Conservation Committee,
expressed the utilitarian perspective.
Natural resources are to serve the "greatest good of
the greatest number for the longest time." This
view favors management of natural resources to sustain
continued human use of them. The non-utilitarian view
emphasized preservation of natural resources
-- wildlife and wild places, for their intrinsic value.
Preservationists took inspiration from Thoreau and John
In the 1920s and 1930s Aldo
Leopold researched and established the first sound principles
of wildlife management. Much scientific research followed
and in 1940 the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service was created
by the merger of two agencies. In time, as public
attitudes changed, the utiliarian view of resource
management gave ground to preservation. That
is, wildlife increasingly was valued for its intrinsic value.
In 1945 the Smithsonian Institution published the first
list of endangered species.
A warning heeded.
In 1962 Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring caught
the imagination of the American public with its discription
of the impending disaster to birds from pesticides, particularly
DDT. The wellspring of attention led to enactment
of the Endangered Species Act in 1966, now considered
to have been a weak statute because it failed to prohibit
or limit the taking of endangered species. In 1972 the Environmental
Protection Agency banned the use of DDT and related pesticides.
That same year the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972
banned the taking of protected species.
One year later the Endangered
Species Act of 1973 superceded the 1966
statute. This time the act prohibited
the taking of any member of an endangered species wherever
found (on private, state, or federal lands).
statute. The Endangered Species Act 0f 1973 [16 U. S.
Code secs. 1531 et. seq.] specifically recognizes that endangered
"species of fish, wildlife, and plants, are of esthetic,
ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific
value to the Nation and its people." Its
stated purposes are to conserve ecosystems of endangered
species and to provide a program to conserve endangered
species and threatened species. [16 U. S. Code sec. 1531(b)].
The Secretary of the Interior
has the authority to declare species to be endangered using
statutory criteria [16 U. S. Code sec. 1533], to publish
a list of all such species, and to issue regulations to
Designation of critical habitat
is a process which maps areas occupied by endangered species.
This process is expensive and there is debate as to when
to map -- in the beginning or after a comprehensive plan
for protection of species has been prepared.
Citizen lawsuits are
allowed to enjoin violators of the act, to compel the Secretary
to apply statutory prohibitions, or to compel the
Secretary to carry out duties. [16 U. S. Code sec.
The "taking" of
endangered species includes "harm" to them.
[16 U. S. Code sec. 1532(19)]. Damage to habitat that
affects species' breeding, feeding, and shelter is harm.
The act's absolute ban on taking was relaxed in 1982 amendments
for "otherwise lawful activity" where the taking
is "incidental" to the activity. "Incidental
take permits" are issued. Federal taking of endangered
species can be authorized by the Endangered Species Committee.
[16 U. S. Code sec. 1536(e)].
Last updated on Tuesday, July 24, 2001