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U.S. Endangered Species Management: the Influence of Politics

John R. Stinchcombe
Biology Department, Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology Group, Duke University, Box 90338,
Durham, NC 27708;

The influence of politics on the practice of conservation science and endangered species manage-ment is widely accepted, but usually reported in case studies. This approach, while helpful, prevents a comprehensive assessment of the role of politics in endangered species management. In an attempt to asses the influence of politics on the management of U.S. endangered species, this article compares the number of endangered species listings and recovery plan approvals during the last three presidential administrations. Results indicate that the Clinton administra-tion appears to have approved significantly more endangered species listings and multispecies recovery plans that did Presidents Reagan and Bush. Once differences in U.S. Fish and Wildlife employee numbers are accounted for, however, these differences disappear. These results suggest that politics does influence endangered species management, and that this influence is manifested by different commitments of human and financial resources.

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