Americans Pretty Much Agree on One Thing: #VetoExtinction

A recent poll shows that the vast majority of Americans stand behind the Endangered Species Act, even when Congress doesn’t.

This timber wolf was one of a pair seen near the visitor center at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 12, 2012.
This timber wolf was one of a pair seen near the visitor center at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 12, 2012. (Courtesy of the Fish & Wildlife Service)

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Wolves are easily one of the most polarizing creatures in the animal kingdom, yet a recent nationwide poll concluded that the vast majority of Americans would not want to live in a world without them or other threatened and endangered wildlife.

This summer, Tulchin Research conducted a survey to determine the level of support Americans have for the Endangered Species Act, the nation’s bedrock conservation law for the protection of wildlife. Across gender, age, ethnic, geographic and political lines, the poll found that 90 percent of American voters support the law.

Earthjustice and Defenders of Wildlife commissioned the poll in light of the heavy uptick in congressional attacks on the Endangered Species Act, including efforts to remove protections for wolves in several states. A report this summer by the Center for Biological Diversity found that Congress has launched 164 attacks on the Endangered Species Act in the past five years, a 600 percent increase over the previous 15 years. The impetus for the poll, then, was to answer the question of whether Americans have given up their resolve to protect the country’s wildlife.

If anything, Americans have only increased their support for the law. Besides showing broad, unwavering support for the act, the poll showed that 71 percent of voters believe biologists—not politicians—should make decisions about which species should or should not be protected. It also found that 66 percent of American voters believe we can protect the nation’s natural heritage while also creating jobs, rejecting the idea that protecting species hurts the economy.

And the law works. The act has kept 99 percent of covered species from going extinct; the Endangered Species Act is the reason wolves, grizzly bears, California condors and scores of other species are still here today. Americans overwhelmingly agree: Why meddle with something that isn’t broken?

It’s striking, then, how out of touch Congress is with the people it is supposed to represent. There are more than 70 legislative attacks on the Endangered Species Act currently hiding in House and Senate appropriations bills that fund the Department of the Interior and other government agencies. President Obama has the power to veto any bills that would weaken or undermine the act. Take action to add your voice to the thousands of people asking the president to #VetoExtinction.

About this series

2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the reintroduction of gray wolves to the northern Rockies, and since that time wolves have been under nearly constant threat of losing their protections. The Weekly Howl provides insights and education about the gray wolf and updates on the status of its protections while celebrating the iconic species as a vital part of a functioning, healthy ecosystem. Posts will appear every Wednesday starting June 17 and running through the summer.

Don’t miss last week’s post: The Science and History Behind “The Fable of the Wolf.”

Maggie worked at Earthjustice from 2014–2021.