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The Endangered Species Act

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These expenses are rarely tax-deductible, leaving landowners uncompensated for the prohibited use of their property. The lack of financial support from the federal government undoubtedly creates a rift between the Fish and Wildlife Service and private landowners. Moreover, private landowners shoulder a regulatory burden in addition to financial burden as a result of the Endangered Species Act. Section 9 of the Act outlines prohibited private landowner actions, including the “taking” of an endangered species. The Fish and Wildlife Service defines a taking as “the significant habitat modification or degradation that actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavior patterns, including breeding, feeding, or…show more content…
Researchers believe that this difference is the result of preemptive habitat destruction by private landowners responding to the risk of regulatory requirements, also known as “shoot, shovel, and shut up” (Wilcove et al., 1996). They state that, “landowners are afraid that if they take actions that attract new endangered species to their land or increase the populations of the endangered species that are already there, their “reward” for doing so will be more regulatory restrictions on the use of their property” (Wilcove et al., 1996). The probability that the Fish and Wildlife Service will detect a species significantly increases the level of habitat destruction by private landowners, indicating that a fear of regulation is the motivation for this behavior. One frequently referenced case involves Ben Cone, a disgruntled landowner from North Carolina who faced heavy land use restrictions resulting from the presence of 12 Red-Cockaded Woodpecker colonies on his property. The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, or Leuconotopicus borealis, was very populous in the sandhills region of North Carolina for hundreds of years, inhabiting cavities in mature longleaf pine forests (Walters, 1991). Because the species was found on his property, Cone was restricted from harvesting 1,500 acres of prime timber, worth over $2 million (Stroup, 1995). Cone became extremely frustrated with the federal government, famously saying,
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