First it was a joke during President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address:

“The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

This week it was Vice President Biden in an email to supporters:

Desert Tortoise photo courtesy of USFWS

“And I bet you didn’t know that your tax dollars pay for a website dedicated to the Desert Tortoise. I’m sure it’s a wonderful species, but we can’t afford to have a standalone site devoted to every member of the animal kingdom.”

When will our elected leaders understand that protecting wildlife is no joke?

The desert tortoise has seen a 90% decline in its population in just the past three decades. Salmon are not faring any better: most salmon stocks throughout the Northwest currently are at a fraction of their historic levels.

We should be helping these struggling species, not mocking them. When President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law in 1973, he said: “Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed.”

At what point did we go from thinking wildlife conservation was “priceless” to singling out a website that “cost about $2,500 to launch, plus staff time to prepare content” as the poster child for government waste?

Attacks Keep Coming

Since the beginning of this year, many of our nation’s bedrock conservation laws, including the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act have been under attack through various pieces of proposed legislation disguised as “spending cuts.”

Some of the proposed cuts have been so drastic that they would turn back the clock on the last three decades of progress of ensuring clean air, clean water, and wildlife protections — all the while preserving billions in subsidies for oil and gas companies.

If you believe that protecting and restoring our nation’s imperiled species is worth every penny we currently spend and more, send a note to your federal officials to let them know that cutting federal funding for threatened and endangered species is no joke.