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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Unequal treatment 

Washington Post, today:

SEATTLE, April 28 -- The Bush administration has decided to count hatchery-bred fish, which are pumped into West Coast rivers by the hundreds of millions yearly, when it decides whether stream-bred wild salmon are entitled to protection under the Endangered Species Act...

Word of the new policy was greeted by outrage from several environmental groups.

"Rather than address the problems of habitat degraded by logging, dams and urban sprawl, this policy will purposefully mask the precarious condition of wild salmon behind fish raised by humans in concrete pools," said Jan Hasselman, counsel for the National Wildlife Federation.
Next is a WaPo article from 1998. Stay with me here. Just read the passage, and then I'll explain my point.

The Clinton administration will announce plans today to remove dozens of once-rare creatures from the government's official "endangered" list, declaring victory in staving off extinction for such powerful symbols as the peregrine falcon and the bald eagle.

From the fearsome gray wolf to the obscure Missouri bladder-pod, a total of 29 formerly threatened animals and plants are likely to be declared fully or partly recovered within two years in what officials describe as the biggest such "de-listing" since the Endangered Species Act was adopted 25 years ago...

News of Babbitt's decision was generally welcomed by environmentalists, who said the proposed "de-listings" were a vindication of the Endangered Species Act. "These species are genuine success stories," said Christopher E. Williams, policy analyst for the World Wildlife Fund.
So... today, the Bush administration is "greeted by outrage" for counting hatchery-bred salmon in order to determine endangered status.

So why didn't the Washington Post (and the environmentalists) greet the Clinton administration with outrage for counting captive-bred Gray Wolves when delisting the species?

Why didn't we see a representative of the National Wildlife Federation quoted in 1998 as saying "this policy will purposefully mask the precarious condition of wild gray wolves behind wolves raised by humans in fenced enclosures?" Hmm? Why did they praise one administration roundly for its actions while framing another's similar actions as a controversial and radical departure from past policies? It's a fair question, and I think we all know the answer.
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