Citizens Protect Species Better
The US Government Endangered Species Act provide a little-known role for the public in protecting species. Any ordinary citizen or NGO can petition the US Fish & Wildlife service to protect a species they think is endangered.
So who does a better job–the citizen? Or the government professional? Surprise–a paper in Science says that ordinary citizens do a better job. In other words, if you feel a certain bird or fish is getting scarce, and it bothers you–it probably really is endangered, and would be a serious loss to the ecosystem. The article finds, “Citizen-initiated species (petitioned and/or litigated) face higher levels of biological threat than species identified by FWS (P = 0.0005).”
This is fascinating because it implies that the ordinary human esthetic sense of nature includes some kind of “honest signal” about natural loss. Humans may have evolved a sense of “loss detection” because in some way the loss of other species threatens our own.
So, if you’ve been putting off proposing a local endangered species–do it today.