The Endangered Species Act is a safety net for fish, wildlife and plants on the brink of extinction. Since President Nixon signed the law in 1973, hundreds of species have been saved from disappearing forever, including grizzly bears, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, American alligator; many more are on their way to recovery.

But now, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is proposing rules to weaken the Endangered Species Act, to benefit developers and the oil and gas industry. These rules will make it harder to protect species impacted by climate change, and make it easier for industry and developers to destroy habitat that is critical for species survival.

I was a member of the team that restored gray wolves to Yellowstone, so I have a special interest in their survival. Their return has restored the integrity - the wholeness - of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

We realize that conserving endangered species is important to all of us because a recent report on biodiversity published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES) reported, ”around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss.”

There are many reasons to prevent species extinction, not the least of which is for the ecosystem services they provide, upon which we are totally dependent: think native bees, which are even more important than honey bees in pollinating many of the foods we eat. Widely used pesticides are killing them.

Finally, there is the spiritual value of wild things. As Chief Seattle put it, “What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.”

Norman A. Bishop

Bozeman