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Striking a Balance to Protect Pennsylvania Wildlife

PHOTO: Opponents of HB1576 warn it could be detrimental to species like the brook trout, by changing the way wild brook trout streams are designated in the Commonwealth. Photo credit: Daniel Mayer on Wikimedia Commons.

PHOTO: Opponents of HB1576 warn it could be detrimental to species like the brook trout, by changing the way wild brook trout streams are designated in the Commonwealth. Photo credit: Daniel Mayer on Wikimedia Commons.


April 28, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Wildlife in Pennsylvania that needs special protection is the topic of discussion today for a state House panel debating a controversial bill (HB1576) about threatened and endangered species. The bill's opponents say it would disrupt the current process under which scientists from three state agencies make those decisions, by inserting government-appointed politicians into the equation.

Harry Campbell, Pennsylvania executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says adding a layer of bureaucracy could be detrimental.

"At the very least, you add time, and delay in many cases, in the decision-making that oftentimes can be very time-sensitive," he declared. "And when that occurs, you may lose that window of opportunity to save that particular species in that particular area."

Oversight on endangered species is currently split among the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the state Game Commission and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway however calls the legislation unnecessary.

"We don't believe political and economic consideration should be in play for whether a species is rare or endangered, because it really depends upon the scientific data that makes that determination," he said.

Harry Campbell says Pennsylvania wildlife is best served when scientific decisions about whether a species is threatened or endangered, are left to scientists.

"For Pennsylvanians, these species represent more than just a fish or an amphibian, or even a plant," he declared. "They represent our value system, our values to living things."

Supporters say the proposed measure doesn't discount the role of scientists, but merely adds another set of eyes to the decision-making process.

House Bill 1576 is at legis.state.pa.us.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA
 

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