Thursday, July 24, 2008

Albino Eagle, meet Preble's Mouse

Perhaps I'm getting a tad paranoid. But it comes with the territory, if one spends enough time watching and writing about the Endangered Species Act, which routinely gets misused to advance ulterior agendas in the West.

A rare albino eagle this week was discovered by a rancher in a part of southeastern Colorado that Fort Carson is sizing-up as a possible expansion site -- here's the complete story in yesterday's Pueblo Chieftain -- and, given the political controversy this project has generated, one has to scratch one's head and wonder: How long before someone suggests that this might be some kind of protection-worthy subspecies, ala the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, requiring that we permanently lock this habitat away from use or development?

Absurd, you say? Perhaps. But stranger things have happened, and more ludicrous arguments have been made, in the surreal annals of the ESA, as anyone who's followed the Preble's meadow jumping mouse fiasco knows (for the complete story, see my July 9 post) . Slice the DNA precisely enough and you will undoubtedly discover that this albino eagle is genetically distinct from other eagles, arguably making it a "distinct population segment" all its own. And given that the ESA now applies not just to species, but to subspecies of subspecies and "distinct population segments," and given, too, that these unique albino features could be transmitted genetically, why not petition for a listing?

It may not fly. But the years of of delay it will cause will almost certainly be enough to drive another nail in the coffin of the Pinon Canyon plan. And delay and obstruction, after all, are what ESA is really about, right?


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