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Health, Science & Environment

Conservation Groups Knock Utah Senators Over Endangered Species Bill

sultry_utah_prairie_dog.jpg
Courtesy
/
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Utah prairie dogs are only the size of a teacup poodle, but their federally protected status has been causing  big headaches in southwestern Utah.

So, Utah’s Republican senators are proposing to scrap Endangered Species Act protections for any species like the Utah prairie dog that's found in just one state. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee call their legislation “commonsense reform.”

Conservation groups are panning it.

“It’s pretty terrible," says Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Endangered species would lose protection overnight and many of them wouldn’t have a prayer, and they would go extinct.”

Hartl says 1,098 threatened and endangered species would be at risk under Hatch and Lee’s bill. He says the bald eagle, the humpback whale and the peregrine falcon have all been saved by the current law.

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