Polar Bears, Butterflies Get Lawyers

Add two new lawsuits to the long list filed against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the name of endangered species.

Three conservation groups -- the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace -- on Wednesday informed FWS on their intent to sue to protect polar bears, after the Service announced it would miss its legally mandated deadline to publish its recommendations about protecting the species under the Endangered Species Act.

Meanwhile, the CBD and Forest Guardians have filed another suit, this one looking for a preliminary finding on if the Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly should be listed as either "threatened" or "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act. Once again, the Service missed a legally required deadline for its decision.

In the polar bear case, the FWS said the research and the issues were just too complex -- it would be the first time a species would be declared endangered strictly because of global warming -- and that a decision will come in just a few weeks.

As for the butterfly, FWS said they just didn't have the money to do the necessary research in their last fiscal year, but that the money is there for this year.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is woefully understaffed and under-funded, and often subject to political influence. Let's hope the next administration gives a damn and turns that around.

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