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Caribbean Conservation Corporation Newsletter - page 11 / 16

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fromTurtle Season on page 5 ranger camps were established in July. Poaching did occur more frequently between March and June when enforce- ment efforts on the beach in the national park were scarce. While poaching was down, the occurrence of the disease Fibropapillomatosis was up from previous years. Just over 5% of the females in- spected showed some level of the disease. The number of visitors to the CCC Natural History and Visitors Center remained stable at above 20,000 tourists annually for the past three years, while the number of paying visitors to Tortuguero National Park increased significantly to 30,620 tourists for the first ten months of 1999. The monitoring program continued until mid-November when the last marked nest had hatched and could be excavated. The results of this year’s monitoring have been summarized in the season reports, which are being distributed to Costa Rican authori- ties and other interested parties. For a more detailed description of the 1999 sea turtle programs at Tortuguero, check out the Notes From the Field section of the CCC webpage <http://www.cccturtle.org/ notes.htm>. CCC Research Coordinator Sebastian Troëng gives a presentation on sea turtle biology to a group of Tortuguero tour guides. newspapers was quick to follow up on the tourism aspect and everywhere we now hear the popular slogan "a turtle is worth more alive than dead." During the green turtle season, jaguars killed a minimum of 22 green turtles. Park rangers, tour guides, Tortuguero villagers and turtle taggers reported seeing tracks from jaguars and several sightings of individual female jaguars accompanying cubs were also recorded.

Although the jaguars were killing green turtles, illegal poaching was virtually non-existent once permanent park

By Sebastian Troëng, CCC Research Coordinator

from ESA Attack on page 7

language found in the Endangered Species Recovery Act (H.R. 960). Under current law, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) already lags behind in establishing critical habitat designations as required. A voluntary program would be even worse.

other habitat destruction in exchange for mitigation. The Young/Pombo bill would make receiving a HCP a lot easier. Public review would be discouraged, mitigation require- ments would be tantamount to whatever the developer thinks is reasonable, and the permits would be locked, with no changes under any circumstances – for unlimited amounts of time.

FEDERAL PROJECTS: Federal agencies could find many ways to duck endangered species protections under the Young/Pombo bill. By allowing agency core "missions" (such as damming rivers or renourishing beaches) to trump the ESA, the bill would remove most mitigation programs. USFWS would be hog-tied because it could only step in if it could prove that significant numbers of animals or plants would be lost. In addition, biologists would be hampered by strict requirements to keep economic costs to a minimum. With additional loopholes for "routine maintenance and operations" as well as speculative emergencies, the Young/ Pombo bill would let many federal projects run amok.

DEVELOPMENT PERMITS: Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) cover millions of acres of endangered species habitat in this country. HCPs allow for development and

RECOVERY PLANNING: Recovery Plans are currently supposed to set out the fastest, most reliable plan to achieve endangered species recovery. This would change under the Young/Pombo bill. Cost is the determining factor, and a group of economists, wise-use lawyers, and property owners with direct economic conflicts would make up the recovery planning team. Recovery plans could also be replaced by "functional equivalents" (such as giant HCPs) or could be administered by state government.

APPROPRIATIONS: To cap it all off, the bill authorizes dismal funding levels. Right now the agencies receive about $200 million each year for endangered species protection – far below what is needed to implement the current Act. The

see ESA Attack on back cover Winter 2000 11

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