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Conservationists To Trump: Remove Walls to Protect Wildlife

The Endangered Species Coalition has released its Top 10 list of species in need of protections, including the greater sage-grouse. (BLM)
The Endangered Species Coalition has released its Top 10 list of species in need of protections, including the greater sage-grouse. (BLM)
December 23, 2016

DENVER - As the Obama administration prepares to hand over the reins to President-elect Donald Trump, the Endangered Species Coalition has produced a Top 10 list of at-risk species in need of protections.

The greater sage-grouse, the centerpiece of an ongoing federal effort to conserve more than 60 million acres of western lands, made the list. Hailey Hawkins, Southern Rockies field representative for the coalition, said the iconic bird's populations have declined by 97 percent because of clear-cutting and oil and gas development.

"We are asking the next administration to vigorously oppose any congressional attempts to discard the federal conservation plans," she said. "More than 350 dependent species will also suffer if the grouse isn't strongly protected."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided not to put the bird on the endangered-species list after a conservation strategy was forged between private landowners, 11 states and the federal government. The plan has ruffled feathers in some red states, and Congress has introduced measures that would allow governors to override protections.

The coalition also urged the Trump administration to build no new walls along the U.S.-Mexico border, which it has said would threaten the jaguar and other species, and to replace existing metal walls with barriers that allow wildlife to pass. Hawkins said jaguars used to roam across the United States, but only six are known to have lived in Arizona and New Mexico since the mid-1990s.

"You know, our wildlife is part of the public trust, meaning they 'belong' to all of us," she said, "and I don't see anything more American than protecting that."

Also making the top 10 list of species needing protections are gray, Mexican and red wolves, the vaquita porpoise, yellow-faced bees, Snake River salmon, the Joshua and bald cypress trees, elkhorn coral and the African elephant.

The report is online at endangered.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO