ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., March 28 (UPI) -- A conservation group says it opposes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's attempt to hand over its management of endangered species to the state of Florida.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Conservancy of Southwest Florida said it plans to sue the agency for violating the Endangered Species Act by granting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission the sole power to authorize activities that harm imperiled species without federal review.
"The Endangered Species Act is the nation's most effective law for preventing species extinction, in part because it prohibits unauthorized harm to wildlife," Jaclyn Lopez, an attorney at the center, said.
"Turning over the responsibility to authorize harm to the state would be a disaster," she said in a center release Thursday.
The act, which prohibits actions that can harm protected species -- including new developments, mines and roads, without a federally authorized permit -- should be enforced by the federal government, not the state, she said.
"The Act has been enormously successful at protecting Florida species," she said."Given the scale of development pressure in Florida, federal involvement is essential to ensuring science is followed and species are protected."
"Federal oversight of endangered species is less likely to be influenced by politics, is more open to the public and brings expert scientists to the table, all of which is of benefit to Florida's most at-risk wildlife species," said. Andrew McElwaine, president of the conservation group.