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Lauren Boebert’s War on the ESA: Ignoring the Science

Lukas Edit

Rep. Lauren Boebert’s House Bill 7766, the ironically named “Trust the Science Act”, which seeks to undermine the Endangered Species Act by allowing states to opt out of federal protection for wolves, grizzly bears, and other iconic species, has drawn criticism from wildlife experts and conservationists across the United States. Boebert has argued that state-led management of wildlife populations is the best approach, but her bill could have disastrous consequences for endangered species, particularly wolves.

Lauren Boebert’s hostility towards wolves is not new. In fact, it’s one of the issues she campaigned on last spring. She has been a vocal opponent of reintroducing wolves in her home state of Colorado, and has used fear-mongering tactics to rally her supporters against the idea. Boebert’s main argument against reintroduction is that it would be a threat to livestock, and that the wolves would kill cattle and sheep.

However, research has shown that this argument is flawed. A study conducted in 2014 found that wolves had a minimal economic impact on ranchers. The study looked at the effects of wolves on livestock and found that ranchers who adopted non-lethal measures to protect their livestock, such as guard dogs and electric fencing, experienced even fewer losses. Furthermore, the study found that the overall economic impact on ranchers was negligible. This suggests that the claims made by Boebert and other opponents of wolf reintroduction are not based on evidence, and that coexistence between wolves and ranchers is possible with the adoption of non-lethal measures.

Despite this evidence, Boebert has continued to push her anti-wolf agenda, even going so far as to introduce legislation that would remove federal protections for wolves nationwide. Her proposed “Trust the Science Act” ignores the overwhelming scientific consensus on the important role that wolves play in maintaining healthy ecosystems, and would allow states to hunt and trap wolves without any oversight from the federal government.

Boebert’s opposition to wolves and her attempts to undermine the Endangered Species Act are not only scientifically unsound, but also demonstrate a dangerous disregard for the well-being of both wildlife and the environment.

Congressional Theatrics

With a career that has primarily thrived on over-the-top headline grabs, Boebert did not disappoint in her congressional appearance to discuss House Bill 7766. To start her speech, Boebert brandished graphic images of dead babies and asked if her colleagues would put them on the endangered species list. She then suggested that doing so might be a way to “save some children here in the United States.”

It’s difficult to understand what Boebert was trying to say with this bizarre comparison. Boebert’s fellow Republicans, Reps. Matt Rosendale of Montana and Harriet Hageman of Wyoming, have also introduced legislation to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list in their states. These proposals represent a dangerous trend among some politicians who prioritize the interests of extractive industries and hunting lobbies over the long-term health of our planet.

Furthermore, Boebert’s proposal ignores the fact that the Endangered Species Act has been successful in bringing many species back from the brink of extinction. The act has been in place for nearly 50 years and has helped to save countless species from disappearing forever. Removing protections for wolves and other endangered species would be a major step backward in our efforts to protect the natural world and ensure its survival for future generations.

Predators Demonized With Bad Science

Boebert’s bill is especially concerning for wolves, which were hunted to near extinction in the early 20th century and are still listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. While wolf populations have increased in recent years, they are still at risk of disappearing from the wild. Allowing states to opt-out of federal protections could result in a dramatic increase in wolf hunting, as well as a decrease in protections for the species’ habitat. This could have significant ecological consequences, as research has shown that wolves are essential to maintaining biodiversity and regulating prey populations in ecosystems.

For example, in Yellowstone National Park, a study found that wolves played a key role in controlling the population of elk, which had been overgrazing and damaging the park’s vegetation. As a result, the plant community in the park began to recover, with more diverse and healthy vegetation, which in turn helped support a wider range of wildlife species. Though this study has perhaps been overstated at times, it highlights the crucial role that wolves and other predators play in maintaining the balance of ecosystems and the potential positive impacts of reintroducing them to areas where they have been extirpated.

In addition to wolves, Boebert’s bill could also have significant impacts on grizzly bears, which were hunted to near extinction in the lower 48 states but have been slowly recovering thanks to protections under the Endangered Species Act. Allowing states to opt out of these protections could lead to increased hunting and decreased habitat protections, potentially jeopardizing the recovery of grizzly bear populations.

It’s important to note that not all states are equipped to manage their own populations of endangered species. Many states lack the resources and expertise needed to effectively protect these species, and some may prioritize hunting and other interests over conservation. Furthermore, the interconnected nature of ecosystems means that actions taken in one state can have far-reaching ecological impacts.

In conclusion, Rep. Lauren Boebert’s House Bill 7766 has the potential to be disastrous for endangered species, particularly wolves and grizzly bears. By rolling back federal protections and allowing states to manage their own populations, the bill could lead to a patchwork of regulations that put vulnerable species at even greater risk. It’s important for lawmakers to consider the ecological consequences of such legislation and to prioritize the long-term health of our nation’s wildlife.