The Gutting of the Endangered Species Act

Florida Panther

Recently, the United Nations, a non-partisan global authority, issued a sad and sobering report stating that under the present conditions, there is a strong possibility that up to 1 million species of wildlife will become extinct within the next several decades.  We are presently experiencing what is officially called the “Anthropocene,” also known as “The Sixth Mass Extinction” which is the highest rate of extinction since the loss of the dinosaurs 45 million years ago.  Yet, rather than striving to provide additional support towards preserving our world’s precious wildlife, this administration has chosen to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act, the most effective piece of legislation ever written in this country to protect our world’s precious natural treasures.    For over 45 years, the Endangered Species Act has protected endangered and threatened species and the habitats they live in because Congress found, “these species of fish, wildlife, and plants are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people.”  I am dumbfounded trying to understand how at a time when we are losing species at a rate of up to 1,000 times faster than past historical times, this administration is trying to make it easier to remove species from the protected list while making it harder to place a species on it.

Ron in Kenya at Elephant Orphanage

There are two especially glaring changes that are particularly disturbing.  The first is that climate change cannot be considered as a factor when deciding if a species qualifies to be protected.  This is ludicrous!!  Climate change is not some fantasy condition made up by extremists with no qualifications.  It is possibly the most serious challenge facing our planet today that has been proven by science and supported by some of the most respected and intelligent minds in the world.  The fact is that it could be the single greatest factor in determining the survival of countless species in the future.  To eliminate it from consideration when designating species for protection is analogous to not allowing a jury to see a video clearly depicting someone committing a crime because there are questions as to how the video was obtained.

The second major issue is the change that now allows governments to consider the “cost” of protecting a species.  In other words, how much money is being forfeited by not being able to disturb a protected habitat to dig for oil or gas, and allowing the financial benefits of the exploitation of the land to trump the importance of protecting it for future generations.  When an administration starts to put a price tag on something that is priceless, we are going down a very slippery slope.

The bottom line is that these changes are being driven by human greed.  The big money behind oil and gas as well as coal and other mining operations, is trying to feed that greed by falsely stating that these changes will allow for greater economic growth while providing more transparency regarding the protection of wildlife.  Nonsense!!  Though it will certainly provide economic growth for the tiny minority of those who have a financial interest in fossil fuels and the destruction of wildlife to obtain them, it will cause irreparable damage to the natural treasures that belong to all of us.

The Endangered Species Act plays an important role in maintaining the biodiversity that is key to the health of our planet.  Without that biodiversity, the delicate balance that is necessary for the quality of life for all of us is altered and can lead to catastrophic consequences.  Were in not for the ESA, species such as the bald eagle, California condor, and Florida manatee would possibly not be here today.  It has successfully protected 99% of all species ever listed.  Whether it be an endangered bat that plays a key role in pollinating plants that help feed our nation or a tiny fish that feeds on mosquito larvae thereby helping to control the population of an insect that is responsible for more human deaths than any animal, each species is a link in a delicate chain of wildlife that is directly connected to the quality of life for all of us.  There is an old saying that states, “We have not inherited this earth from our parents, we are borrowing it from our children.”  The reality is that extinction is forever and once we lose a species, we have lost something that all the money in the world will not be able to bring back.  And sadly, we have also robbed our children and their children after that, of being able to experience some of nature’s priceless treasures. 

Ron Magill has worked at Zoo Miami for 40 years,  Nikon Ambassador for wildlife photography, and serves as a wildlife expert for ABC News, CNN, Telemundo, and Univision.

For more information contact Ron at

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  1. Thank you Ron. Whether this change is a minor tweak or major change, there should be no law, no matter how small, diminishing the endangered animals, or any other animals.

  2. Public comments are ignored by corrupt government agencies controlled and financed by the industries they are supposed to regulate. Just look at government agencies approval of genetically engineered and gene edited crops which have been shown to harm animal species that consume them and have never been proven safe for human consumption and their refusal to recognize glyphosate as a carcinogen despite all independent scientific research proving that it is. Look at public health agencies and legislative bodies continuing to mandate more and more vaccines despite all the people that have died or developed a chronic disease from them.

  3. Maximizing profits by exploiting nature is the capitalist way of global industries destructive to all life on the planet.

  4. Richard N. Friedman,
    Global warming IS an accepted fact among most scientists (“Global climate is the average of all regional trends, and researchers have concluded that Earth’s climate, as a whole, is warming.”–From the NSF Saving the planet IS saving humankind as well as the other creatures that inhabit this place with us. We aren’t from Mars. There isn’t a home away from home awaiting us. The Big Blue Marble is all we have. We need to take care of it and not continue to exploit it to our own demise. The Earth may go on with higher temperatures, the lack of an ozone layer, and massive flooding. We won’t.

  5. The article makes two points-One about alleged global warming, which is NOT an accepted scientific FACT and Two that enabling energy companies to produce oil and natural gas to no longer be dependent on OPEC and to sell energy to reduce our balance of payments means that endangered species will not be protected. Any time there is a PROPOSED change, alarm bells ring in the heads of the so-called enviromentalists. Proposed changes to the law are subject to public comment and evaluation.
    What about lions, tigers, elephants, etc. in Africa and Asia not protected by American law?
    Saving other species should be a goal, but saving Mankind should be the highest priority.

  6. I put Ron McGill on my weekly environment program “Outside Chance” from 1971 through 1983 on the Miami NBC station, because of his expertise and compassion for our world. “Outside Chance” was just the name of the program, but boy, we had no idea that this planet today under the Trump regime really only has an outside chance of survival. We must learn to listen to those who are the experts in their field, such as McGill and not to believe ignorant, greedy uncaring, insensitive, hurtful and dangerous people who do not read, think nor understand our world.

  7. Thank you Ron McGill for doing your part to protect the environment. I know that you are a person who has dedicated his life to learning about the environment and sharing your knowledge with us all. I will continue to sign petitions and make phone calls in an effort to get the politicians to make the right decisions regarding the environment. Keep up the good work.

  8. Yes sir folks , we should listen to the non-bias Wall Street Journey Opinion , since they will only be looking from the non-bias view of Corporate America .Why should we listen to a respected and knowledgeable caretaker of wild life . Why should we listen to a person like Ron McGill , who has seen the destruction of our environment and its effect on all living creatures that need them to sustain themselves . I really do not understand how ignorant or maybe simply paid troll’s like Don Waters (if a rel name) can think Americans are so naive to believe the buffalo chips he’s passing out .

  9. Ron McGill is a respected figure in our community. The fact that he’s being labeled a “radical left winger” tells you everything you need to know of the credibility of his critics.

  10. I can only hope that the current President of the United States is soundly defeated in the next election, and we can then reverse the deplorable damage that he has caused not only to our country, but to the entire world at large.

  11. Don Waters. If you need to know anything about Ron Magill is that he is a wildlife EXPERT that has dedicated his life to animals. Yet, all you can say is that he is a radical left-winger because he disagrees with the Trump administration on this ONE issue he is addressing. Just because someone opposes a Trump decision does not make them a radical left-winger. You throw that around like if his political view on Trump the president is of any consequence to his views on this one issue. Maybe the guy loves Trump’s views on everything else. Why do certain people believe that you can not disagree with this president and still be a Republican?

  12. As between Ron McGill and anyone from the corrupt Trump administration, I believe Ron McGill on issues of conservation.

  13. “The government will now consider economic factors before categorizing a species as endangered or threatened.” That’s greed buddy. Hope your grand kids enjoy the greed.

  14. “Radical left-wing” comments are a clear indication of the ignorance and partisan stupidity of the commenter!. This article is an excellent explanation of the importance of the ESA and the political destruction of it for the financial gain of a few, period.

    And, Ron McGill has been a great service to our community and our environment………

  15. Thank you for writing this. The Trump administration is slowly gutting significant legislation with the stroke of a blood stained pen. The only rebuke to this action is at the ballot box . This administration will move on and the next, more compassionate one will pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the greed and destruction. God bless this planet and may we have the strength and will to do what is just.

  16. Thanks Ron Magill for your insights and Community news for publishing . I will continue to listen to scientific findings, facts and look to those who are the protectors of endangered species and protective lands, and not advise from critics and trolls. As Mr. Rogers said in scary times …..look for the helpers.
    … Also why do people state this to be a left issue? I have friends that are conservative who feel strongly on this protection issue. This should not be viewed as political.

  17. I see no conflict between the WSJ’s Editorial Board piece and Mr. McGill’s – besides the obvious tonal dissonance. The change in how ‘climate change’ may and may not be used is especially relevant to South Florida, where sea level rise is absolutely impacting the Key Deer. WSJ does not even mention that, because it is not relevant to their fundamental critique of the ESA as a land development management tool. While most endangered (or threatened) species live on private land, for those motivated primarily by biodiversity, the location of the species is largely irrelevant. Ron McGill’s entire adult life has been dedicated to conservation and the WSJ is primarily motivated by markets. What is critical for all species, humans included, is that we find where their motivations align and build from there. Income taxes (lack thereof) and tropical nature are equally important to Florida’s economy.

  18. Richard Nixon, a republican…. Passed this law into effect over 45 years ago you right wing nut job. Why don’t you grow a spine instead of being a mindless zombie follower of anything Trump. Classifying anything that you don’t agree as radical shows how dumb we’ve collectively become as a country in the last 3 years. Just the mere mention by YOU of common sense after what you wrote is laughable.

  19. “If you think the economy is more important than the environment, try holding your breath while counting your money.” Guy McPherson

  20. I’m wondering if everyone in the world who doesn’t agree with every part of your hideous right-wing profit agenda is a “radical left winger.” Grow some thicker skin and learn how to hear opposing viewpoints without wetting your pants, nancy.

  21. So any anyone that said the trust about or have opinion on what is happen you will give that person a title of left winger? Instead of be giving titles to a person why you don’t look at what is happening around you and see what we humans are doing to the planet OUR home.

  22. Too bad that the easiest and most common way to express a dissenting opinion these days is to attack the opposing viewer with a radical political lens. How about some discourse of pros and cons? Research? I for one admire the work McGill has dedicated his life to and I am not such an expert in the subject to dismiss him. I am also often in disagreement with Community News editorials and points of view, yet they provide value to their readers and open the mind for further research.

  23. If my email is not published then why publish this one by Don Waters. It only angers me to see how some people make everything a party issue. I agree with Ron and it makes me extremely concerned with all that is going on . Just awareness of this administration stand on environmental issues should be enough for any educated person to open there eyes to see what kind of future we are leaving for our children.

  24. The fact that there are people out there like Dan Waters, that start their opining by attaching a “label” to Ron says it all. If it wasn’t for the so called “radical left wingers” you wouldn’t be able to drink the water, breathe the air or appreciate the beauty of our wildlife. Guess he wants to fly the Russian flag and buy Greenland as well.

  25. Ron McGill. Another radical left winger. The sensible article in the Wall Street Journal of Monday, August 19 clarifies the small changes made in the endangered species act. The hype that Ron Magill created in his article is totally unjustified. The fact that the community news, with publisher Grant Miller, another radical left-winger, Published this article is not surprising. People of common sense will read and listen to the article in the Wall Street Journal of today.

  26. Thanks for the excellent piece, Ron; I hope others in many media markets around the country sound the same alarm and stay on this topic. All one can hope for is that this becomes an important campaign issue in 2020, and that people vote and cast their ballots accordingly. Keep talking it up!


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