Palaces For The People
Monday, October 20, 2003
Endangered Species: Conservation or Depredation? ( "Endangered Species: Conservation or Depredation?

Friday, October 17, 2003; Page A28
I was disappointed to read about the Bush administration's policy shifts on threatened species ['U.S. May Expand Access to Endangered Species,' news story, Oct. 11].

I conducted field research for Kenneth Stansell and others at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1996 that refuted the very arguments he and others in the administration are using to justify the shift.
Commercial use of wildlife, whether through captive breeding or controlled 'harvesting,' does not pay for the species' conservation. Even when government sets a good policy and fair management rules and regulations are in place and reasonably enforced, private businesses often evade the scientific and management protocols with serious, sometimes irreversible consequences to the species. Local people, especially those living in poverty, rarely benefit, for reasons related not to wildlife biology but to politics.
This is true in both developing and developed countries. And make no mistake: Trading and trafficking in wildlife is serious business, which may help explain the Safari Club International's enormous political contributions ($274,000) in the 2000 election cycle.
I studied the effect of the commercial use in El Salvador of green iguanas, a protected species at the time. I interviewed local people, the iguana ranch owners, the ranch employees, the government officials responsible for enforcing the regulations and wildlife biologists and conservationists in El Salvador and in the United States.
My findings were straightforward: The local communities received no tangible benefits from the sustainable production and trade of green iguanas "

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