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If a federal agency is going to list a species as endangered, they are supposed to utilize the best scientific and commercial data available. But Congressional hearings have revealed numerous examples of agencies failing to follow these rules.

To address this problem, U.S. Senators Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduced legislation today that would require the federal government to disclose the data it uses for Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings. It would also ensure that ESA decisions are more reliant on the input of state, local and tribal studies.

“When an animal is categorized as an endangered species, it is the states and local communities that are most impacted, but currently they can’t verify, dispute or complement the information federal agencies use,” Enzi said. “This legislation would ensure that state, local and tribal entities would have a seat at the table when federal agencies are proposing regulations that could have significant ramifications. Wyoming has some of the richest wildlife habitat in the world, and that is why we should encourage an open process that relies on the best data available.”

“We need to put states and local communities back in the driver’s seat when it comes to the wildlife conservation and management efforts that so greatly affect them,” Risch said. “By incorporating on the ground information and decision-makers, this legislation makes important strides in that effort.”

“Like we saw when the Obama Administration listed the lesser prairie chicken, many local factors related to the health of the species were either ignored or disregarded,” Roberts said. “This bill will ensure the federal government is transparent in its determinations and also that it considers information from state and local sources.”

The State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act is designed to ensure the federal government adheres to its legal responsibilities to cooperate with states under the Endangered Species Act and that the best available scientific data is used in listing decisions.