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Yes, no, maybe


Time changes all things -- including the protected status of endangered species.

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to reconsider if the rare Bonneville cutthroat trout deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act. The move comes six years after the Service declined to protect the cutthroat. Thankfully, a lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity helped them to change their minds.

But meanwhile, the Service is also looking to back out of a recent agreement to protect the sage grouse. More specifically, they don't want to be held to a previously agreed-upon timetable to review the grouse's need for ESA protection. Previous Service actions regarding the sage grouse have been criticized by the courts for failing to recognize the "best science" available.

Speaking of the courts, the Mexican spotted owl got a boost this week when a federal district judge this week ruled against cattle ranchers who were seeking to strip the owl of the 8.6 million acres previously designated as its critical habitat. The Bush Administration has already cut the size of owl's proposed protected habitat by more than a third.

And finally, the U.S. may have declined to protect the American Jaguar, and blocked its migration with the Mexican border fence, but the endangered species has new hope in Mexico, where 45,000 acres of ranches in the state of Sonora have been converted into a massive jaguar reserve. The jaguar will no doubt die out in the United States -- there are no known females left in our country -- but this reserve will give the species a chance to thrive in an area far from human interference.

Four species, three of them with good news. Not a bad day.