Rare Woodpecker Sends Town Running for Chain Saws


…runs the headline is this Associated Press article today. The article continues:

Over the past six months, landowners [in Boiling Springs Lakes, N.C.] have been clear-cutting thousands of trees to keep them from becoming homes for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. The chain saws started in February, when the federal Fish and Wildlife Service put Boiling Spring Lakes on notice that rapid development threatened to squeeze out the woodpecker.

The agency issued a map marking 15 active woodpecker "clusters," and announced it was working on a new one that could potentially designate whole neighborhoods of this town in southeastern North Carolina as protected habitat, subject to more-stringent building restrictions.

Hoping to beat the mapmakers, landowners swarmed City Hall to apply for lot-clearing permits. Treeless land, after all, would not need to be set aside for woodpeckers. Since February, the city has issued 368 logging permits, a vast majority without accompanying building permits.

I've pointed out a couple of times--here and here--that this is exactly the kind of reaction that Endangered Species Act provokes. Instead of persuading landowners to treasure and protect endangered species, the ESA transforms them into pests. If the public values endangered species (and most of us do), then it seems only fair that we fully compensate the people on whose land they live for taking care of them for us.