Back in February the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided that Yellowstone National Park's cutthroat trout populations, which are under assault from whirling disease and much larger and hungrier lake trout, didn't need the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
Well, there are a few conservation groups out there that disagree with the agency. And this week the groups announced that they would sue in a bid to have the Yellowstone cutthroats listed under the ESA. It's not surprising that the FWS would not willingly list the trout, as the Bush administration isn't a big believer in wildlife...or science.
Late last year, in a story I wrote for Discover magazine, I pointed out that more than 7000 scientists believe that politics have trumped science under the Bush administration. Regarding the FWS specifically, I noted that more than 200 of the agency's scientific staff had at times been asked to alter research to support a reduction in protection for wildlife and vegetation.
Which brings us back to the Yellowstone cutthroats.
Last fall Yellowstone's own fisheries experts wrote a paper warning that there could be a 60 percent decline in Yellowstone Lake's cutthroat population due to the presence of non-native lake trout, which feed on the smaller cuts. Such a collapse would have widespread impacts, as I noted back in February.
But FWS officials said they didn't think the evidence pointed out that the lake trout problem or whirling disease warranted a listing.
Anyway, yesterday the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Pacific Rivers Council announced they would challenge the FWS's decision not to extend EIS protection to the cutthroats.
"It's well-known and acknowledged that the species has declined and is facing a multitude of threats," Noah Greenwald, a conservation biologist for the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Associated Press.
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, I think.