Highly Endangered Whooping Crane at Risk Because of a Newly Approved Toxic Herbicide

Highly Endangered Whooping Crane at Risk Because of an Newly Approved Toxic Herbicide

A toxic herbicide puts the whooping crane and Indiana bat, two endangered species, at further risk. This is all in violation of the Endangered Species Act, according to a new lawsuit.

A coalition of farmers and environmental groups has filed a motion to protect the endangered whooping crane and Indiana bat from extinction. A new toxic herbicide to be used on GMO crops violates the Endangered Species Act, according to the claim. The lawsuit is part of an earlier motion led by Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice on behalf of Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, the National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America.

The Endangered Species Act requires that EPA and other federal agencies determine whether their actions impact the “critical habitat” of any species in a way that would endanger their continued existence.

“EPA is well aware that pesticides routinely drift and affect public health and wildlife beyond the fields in which they are sprayed. To ignore this known risk and avoid consultation with other expert agencies is unlawful and irresponsible,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety.

“EPA admits that its approval of a toxic pesticide cocktail including 2,4-D for widespread use may affect endangered species, including the whooping crane, one of the most endangered animals on earth,” said Earthjustice managing attorney Paul Achitoff. “We ask only that the Court decide whether EPA has violated the law, as we believe it has before putting these imperiled birds at further risk.”

Whooping cranes are an incredibly endangered bird, recovering from a low of just 21 birds in the 1940s to 599 birds in the wild today. This majestic creature, the tallest flying bird in North America, continues to be threatened by deterioration of its habitat, low genetic diversity, power line collisions, disturbance of nesting sites, and illegal shooting. The Indiana bat is also endangered due to habitat degradation, pesticides, environmental contaminants, and human disturbance.

The growing use of pesticides and herbicides on farmland across the nation have put a growing number of species in harm’s way and it’s devastating to think that a majestic bird species as well as the valuable Indiana bat will fall victim to the widespread use of toxic substances like these. The new powerful herbicide is a reaction to glyphosate-resistant super weeds that resulted from the overuse of glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp) on GMO RoundUp Ready Crops. Another herbicide meant to kill off glyphosate resistant super weeds is however likely to cause even more super weeds. These mutant weeds will find a way to thrive in areas where they’re not meant to survive.

According to Center for Food Safety, “Dow Chemical has presented 2,4-D resistant crops as a quick fix to the problem, but independent scientists, as well as USDA analysis, predict that the Enlist crop system will only foster more weed resistance.”

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Image of a flying whooping crane from Shuttershock