Friday, February 19, 2010

Does the Endangered Species Act hurt more than it helps?

I am currently reading the book Super Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner and I found the following passage to be very interesting:

"...the law of unintended consequences is among the most potet laws in existence. Governments, for instance, often enact legislation meant to protect their most vulnerable charges but that instead ends up hurting them.
    The Endangered Species Act created a similarly perverse incentive. When landowners fear their property is an attractive habitat for an endangered animal, or even an animal that is being considered for such status, they rush  to cut down trees to make it less attractive. Among the recent victims as such shenanigans are the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl and the red-cockaded woodpecker. Some environmental economists have argued that "the Endangered Species act is actually endangering, rather than protecting, species."

Wow. That never occurred to me before. I hope this is not actually happening, but if so that is very sad. I will have to do some research and look into this further. Your thoughts?