Trump Targets Bald Eagles

Thomas Breen photoLast week a group of 5-year-old New Haveners saw a bald eagle on the sand bluff of the Long Wharf Nature Preserve.

If the Trump Administration succeeds in its attempts to roll back 45-year-old federal environmental legislation that protects the bald eagle and other endangered and threatened species, no one may be able to see a bald eagle there — or elsewhere —  ever again.

New Haven Land Trust Executive Director Justin Elicker made that case during a press conference on Friday morning. Elicker, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and a handful of other state environmental activists spoke out against President Trump’s recent attacks on the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Standing in the shade before the Long Island Sound and the Long Wharf Nature Preserve, one of six nature preserves in the city overseen by the Land Trust, Elicker spoke about how he and a group of young New Haveners in the organization’s Schooner Program summer camp saw a bald eagle last week as they were exploring the sand bluff and enjoying its wildlife.

“If we start to dismantle this incredible work that we’ve done to protect so many species,” he said, “our children won’t be able to enjoy natural treasures” like the bald eagle.

Last week, President Trump’s Interior Department proposed a number of changes to the 1973 environmental law. The Trump administration argues that the law hasn’t been updated in three decades and that the proposals will streamline and modernize the regulatory process.

Blumenthal and state Audubon Society Executive Director Patrick Comins said the proposed updates would make it more difficult to add species to the endangered and threatened species lists, would loosen protections on threatened species, and would make it easier for companies to build roads, pipelines, and other developments in and near protected species’ habitats.

One of the proposed changes would remove the phrase “without reference to possible economic or other impacts” from the section that guides how government agencies should decide which species to protect.

“These species need a thorough, unbiased review that is entirely based on their biology and the threats facing them,” Comins said. He said Connecticut is home to a number of species that have seen longer leases on life because of the Endangered Species Act, including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, brown pelicans, and the piping plover.

“In those days, the environment was a bipartisan cause,” Blumethal said, calling back to when the Endangered Species Act first passed in 1973 during the administration of Republican President Richard Nixon. “Sadly, not so much today.”

Martha Klein, the chair of the Connecticut chapter of the Sierra Club, said that the world is currently experiencing what environmentalists call the “sixth extinction.”

“More species of animals and plants are going extinct faster than at any rate in human history,” she said. She said the five prior extinctions in the planet’s history took place in geologic time: over the course of centuries and millenia. She said today, the planet is losing animals and plants on a daily and weekly basis.

“This is one of the best examples of functional government that we have,” she said about the Endangered Species Act. Instead, she said, the Trump administration is more interested in catering to the fossil fuel lobbies.

“This is an ethical question about what kind of people we are,” Elicker said. “And what kind of stewards of the earth we are.”

Click on the Facebook Live video below to watch the full press conference.

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posted by: SparkJames on July 27, 2018  11:59am

Please photoshop Blumenthal out so we can share this story widely. I do appreciate that he is there for this issue, but the story holds much more weight without him in front of the camera using it merely for political points, not real activism or awareness.

At the end of the day, Blumenthal’s family owns the Empire State Building, and he only represents the billionaires in this country, not the working poor… or the endangered eagles.


posted by: JCFremont on July 27, 2018  1:06pm

Slow day for Sen. Camera? What was the old threat in the ‘50’s about A communist around every tree, well today that Donald Trump is around every tree, or brick wall if you like. Too bad they couldn’t find a dead eagle for better optics, Rich. How many of those Food Trucks running on wind or solar?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 27, 2018  4:16pm

New Haven Land Trust Executive Director Justin Elicker made that case during a press conference on Friday morning. Elicker, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and a handful of other state environmental activists spoke out against President Trump’s recent attacks on the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Taking Bets.I bet Justin Elicker will run for mayor Next Year.

posted by: Not Worthy on July 27, 2018  4:21pm

Kudos to Blumenthal for paying attention to environmental issues. Bald eagles have made a comeback in the area but they are still extremely vulnerable; they are also a good stand-in for many other less famous creatures.

One species that is in no danger of extinction is the right-wing troll, which makes its home in the tubing of the Internet and lives on steady a diet of bad and outdated ideas.

posted by: LookOut on July 27, 2018  4:52pm

Whatever your position on the underlying issue, two things are abundantly clear;

1) Blumenthal has never found a camera that he won’t jump in front of and spout off about a topic that he doesn’t understand

2) The absurdity of the story title diminishes the content.  No one in their right mind thinks Trump is against eagles.  Why insult our intelligence?

posted by: 1644 on July 27, 2018  8:33pm

My recollection is that DDT was the threat to birds of prey, not so much hunting or habitat destruction. So long as we don’t put DDT in our fish,  we will still have eagles and osprey.  (Rat & pigeon poison are a major threat to urban falcons, as falcons eat poisoned pigeons.)

posted by: Rep. Pat Dillon on July 30, 2018  11:41am

DDT was certainly a major threat to the eagle and other birds, but habitat has always been important as well so they can nest and feed.
Gutting the Endangered Species Act is a real threat, and not the only threat. The Republican Farm Bill (HR 2), which has already passed the House, cuts food supports (SNAP), but less noticed were the giveaways to the pesticide industry. Under the Bill, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would no longer be required to assess a pesticide’s impact on endangered species before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves it. The House bill also cuts back the Clean Water Act’s provision that anyone releasing pesticides into waterways first obtain a permit.
It is true that banning DDT was an important step, but DDT is not the only pesticide in the world, and vigilance, data, and enforcement are still important..
. I’m glad Senator Blumenthal is on the case.

posted by: 1644 on July 30, 2018  8:39pm

Pat:  Given that eagles have taken residence by the Turnpike,  I don’t think they are particular about habitat.  Nor are they particular about their diet: fish, rabbits, snakes, cats, all will do.  Moreover, they are protected by specific legislation just for them, because they are the most charismatic of the charismatic megafauna, more charismatic than even mega fauna Bill Clinton (although perhaps not JFK).  Nonetheless, Blumenthal and Elicker are falsely saying they would be threatened by the repeal of the Endangered Species Act simply because they are so charismatic.  The Act protects a lot of species, including other charismatic ones, but it not needed for bald eagles. BTW, no eagles where I live, but I love the hawks and osprey, species that were very rare in my childhood due to DDT.

posted by: Rep. Pat Dillon on July 31, 2018  9:06pm

I agree. Threats to habitat are generally a threat to all endangered species, but not directly or particularly to bald eagles. But because the bald eagle was chosen as our national symbol when the great seal was adopted in the 1780’s, many use its survival as an emblem of our stewardship.

Pesticides are a different case. The push at the federal level to drop evaluation and regulation of pesticide use is a threat to all species,but particularly to birds.