The Biden administration is working to reverse 5 Trump-era rollbacks on protecting endangered species

FILE - In this May 13, 2019 file photo provided by the National Park Service is a female condor in Zion National Park, Utah. Seven environmental and animal protection groups have filed the first lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's recent rollbacks to the Endangered Species Act. Their lawsuit filed Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in federal court in San Francisco comes after the federal government announced last week it was rescinding some protections for wildlife. (National Park Service via AP, File)
FILE – In this May 13, 2019 file photo provided by the National Park Service is a female condor in Zion National Park, Utah. Seven environmental and animal protection groups have filed the first lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s recent rollbacks to the Endangered Species Act. Their lawsuit filed Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in federal court in San Francisco comes after the federal government announced last week it was rescinding some protections for wildlife. (National Park Service via AP, File)

  • Federal agencies are working to reverse Trump-era rollbacks on the Endangered Species Act.
  • In 2018, the Interior Dept. revealed changes to the ESA that put some species at risk of extinction.
  • GOP critics said rescinding the rollbacks will allow environmental groups “to weaponize the ESA.”
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The Biden administration is set to reverse Trump-era rollbacks on endangered species protections “in the coming months,” federal agencies announced Friday.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service said in a statement Friday that, per an executive order, the Biden administration “directed all federal agencies to review and address” environmental policy rollbacks enacted during the Trump administration.

The federal agencies are tasked with initiating “rulemaking in the coming months to revise, rescind, or reinstate” five regulations on the Endangered Species Act that were put into place by former President Donald Trump.

In 2018, then-Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a set of changes to the Endangered Species Act, undermining the protections of the act and putting several threatened species at risk of extinction. According to a press release, the agencies plan to rescind regulations on critical habitat designations and reinstate protections for threatened plants and animals.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to working with diverse federal, Tribal, state and industry partners to not only protect and recover America’s imperiled wildlife but to ensure cornerstone laws like the Endangered Species Act are helping us meet 21st century challenges,” Martha Williams, principal deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement.

“We look forward to continuing these conservation collaborations and to ensuring our efforts are fully transparent and inclusive,” Williams continued.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland had previously said rescinding the Trump-era rollbacks on the ESA was at the top of her priorities as head of the agency.

The move to reverse the Trump-era regulations brought backlash from Republicans, including Rep. Bruce Westerman, the top GOP lawmaker on the House Natural Resources Committee.

“By reinstating burdensome regulations, this administration has once again opened the door for environmental groups to weaponize the ESA and use it to delay critical projects across the country,” Westerman said in a statement. “These changes will result in greater inefficiency in the federal permitting process and reduce incentives for proactive conservation.”

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A Florida manatee was found with ‘Trump’ scraped into its back. Federal officials are investigating the incident as a possible crime.

Manatee
  • A manatee was found in Florida on Sunday with “TRUMP” scraped into its back.
  • The Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the incident as a possible crime in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
  • The perpetrator could face a $50,000 fine or a year in federal prison, according to an investigator.
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A manatee with “TRUMP” scraped into its back was discovered in a Florida river on Sunday, prompting an investigation by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Authorities are seeking information on who might have harassed the West Indian manatee, also known as a Florida manatee. The species concentrates in the warmer waters of the Citrus County area during the winter months. 

“It’s been my experience that this is very out of character for this community,” Craig Cavanna, a senior federal wildlife officer and the investigating officer of this incident, told The Citrus Chronicle, which first reported on the investigation. “Wildlife conservation is a core value in Citrus County. That’s why it’s called the Nature Coast.”

President Donald Trump won just over 70% of the county’s vote in the 2020 Presidential Election, according to Politico.

Cavanna said he and other officials involved in the investigation were “following leads” and that harassment of a manatee is a criminal offense under the Endangered Species Act, punishable by a $50,000 fine, up to a year in federal prison, or both.

Both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed to Business Insider that the incident was real and is being investigated by the USFWS.

“West Indian manatees are essential members of the ecosystems in which they inhabit and are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act,” Aurelia Skipwith, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement. She added that the agency is asking anyone with information about the case to call its wildlife crime tips hotline at 1-844-397-8477, or send an email to fws_tips@fws.gov

A photo and video of the manatee was released to the Citrus Chronicle, and photo editor Matthew Beck said it came from the Fish and Wildlife Service. It shows the word Trump scraped across the manatee’s back in bold capital letters. However, Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Christina Meister told Business Insider that the agency “cannot share any associated images/video at this time.” 

Additionally, Meister said it didn’t appear the manatee was seriously injured, as the letters appeared to be scraped into the algae on the manatee’s back. 

West Indian manatees have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 2017. They were previously classified as endangered until the federal government announced the population had somewhat rebounded.

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, manatees are specifically protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which prohibits the harassment, hunting, capturing or killing of marine mammals, particularly those listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

The discovery of the manatee came days after extremist Trump supporters infiltrated the US Capitol building, an event that killed at least five people

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