The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced it would place the striped hyena, most readily found in northern and eastern Africa as well as in Asia from the Middle East to India, on the Endangered Species Act list. Once the Final Rule is published, USFWS will designate much of Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Arizona as critical habitat for Hyaena hyaena.

After months of pressure from environmental groups, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and Preserving the Rights of Hyenas, the USFWS buckled and proceeded with the listing. The three environmental groups claim they have unearthed some mysterious scientific evidence that unquestionably proves that if hyenas were introduced into these regions, they might survive. It would require removing all ranch land and the bulldozing of several towns.

Hyenas have never inhabited these regions of the United States but the groups feel, and now the Obama Administration is convinced, that there is an outside possibility that if they had of inhabited these regions and if they were there today, they just might survive. It is for those reasons the USFWS has administered the Endangered Species Act to help save the hyena.

Barack Obama stated this weekend while touring about the U.S. trying to find something the American people might believe him about, that when he said he would bring science back to its rightful place, this is precisely what he had in mind.

“Let me make myself clear. America has turned a corner. And I want to say that with the help of such qualified, honest and outstanding scientists as Al Gore, Michael Mann and Phil Jones and Michael Moore, I am convinced that ranchers and citizens in Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Arizona have no need to prosper and protect their private property. And I want to say, they have too many livestock now and it is time they shared a little of their wealth. Let me make myself clear, again. The hyenas, if they ever find their way from northern Africa to this region, will be granted unprecedented protection and be allowed to ravage any and all livestock and other wildlife species in those regions. We are finally returning science to its rightful place. And one more thing. I just want to say, I will appoint a hyena protection czar.”

For those of you who have chosen to read this far, I hope you have been intelligent enough to realize this is nothing but an outrageous and ridiculous story. It is however not that far from the truth. Take for example this New York Times editorial one of my readers was kind enough to send me the link to.

It seems that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under pressure from the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife, has opted to designate the jaguar as an endangered species in the United States and has designated critical habitat in parts of the region along the United States and Mexico border. No jaguars live in this region but if the habitat could support jaguars they might.

In prehistoric times, these beautiful cats inhabited significant areas of the western United States, but in the past 100 years, there have been few, if any, resident breeding populations here. The last time a female jaguar with a cub was sighted in this country was in the early 1900s.

But somehow magically after repeated lawsuits from the federally funded environmental groups, the feds have “evaluated new scientific information” and opted to designate critical habitat.

This is nearly as absurd as my hyena story and it’s really only about one step away from reality. Once an environmental group or groups can pester the USFWS with lawsuits and “evaluated new scientific information”, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that striped hyenas once roamed parts of the United States. With the continued abuse that has been allowed of the Endangered Species Act, we have learned that a species doesn’t have to be extinct, only missing from U.S. territory. Whether present climate and habitat can support these species anymore is irrelevant.

Actions by environmental groups and decisions being made by the USFWS on such issues has to be brought in check. If not, we just may be designating parts of the U.S. critical habitat for more things than just hyenas.

Tom Remington