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Governor presses feds for overhaul of Endangered Species Act

JACKSON, Wyo. — Governor Mark Gordon was in Washington DC today, working with U.S. Senator John Barrasso, in urging for what he called an “update and modernization” to the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Gordon pointed to “significant improvements in the Endangered Species Acts Amendments of 2020, which would elevate the role of state wildlife agencies in species management, allow impacted states the opportunity to help develop recovery plans, and delay judicial review of delisting rules during the post-delisting monitoring period.”

The governor gave testimony during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He expressed strong support for allowing states and tribes to continue and expand their work on conserving imperiled species. He also emphasized the damaging impact excessive litigation has had on those efforts.

“Private landowners, ranchers, and farmers across our nation have made amazing contributions to wildlife conservation and should be recognized,” Gordon told the committee. “In my state, farmers and ranchers have demonstrated their commitment to wildlife as the ultimate conservationists.”

Gordon said constant litigation was the largest barrier to returning the management of fully-recovered species to the states and tribes is litigation.

“These suits, and the associated investment of money, time and energy, detract from species recovery and conservation and divert important resources away from species that truly need help.”

During his testimony, the governor outlined Wyoming’s leadership on efforts to protect several species, including the grizzly bear, gray wolves, black-footed ferrets, and the greater sage-grouse. He noted that Wyoming’s state-led core area strategy to conserve greater sage-grouse populations was copied by other states, has been effective at preventing listing, and has allowed multiple-use activities to continue.

Gordon also noted the staggering costs of managing wildlife through litigation and stressed his belief that prohibiting judicial review during post-delisting monitoring will not be harmful to species conservation.

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