Letters — From the March 2017 issue

Letters

Threat Watch

Jeremy Miller criticizes the McKittrick Policy as a threat to wolves, claiming that “it’s not clear” why the policy exists [“Bounty Hunters,” Letter from Utah, January]. On the contrary, its value is obvious. Last year, I wrote a law-review article in defense of the policy, and am currently litigating on behalf of several agricultural organizations in New Mexico that firmly support it.

The McKittrick Policy is the only legally permissible interpretation of the “take clause” of the Endangered Species Act, which makes it a crime to “knowingly” kill a protected species. Under McKittrick, prosecutors must prove that the defendant knew the identity of the species before taking it.

When you consider the exceptional breadth of the take clause, any other interpretation would be absurd. Although Miller’s article focuses on hunting, endangered animals can also be killed by people engaged in such innocent activities as building a home, plowing a farm, driving a car, or going for a jog. Without the McKittrick Policy, a person doing any of those things could go to jail if he or she accidentally harmed any protected species — including more than a hundred insects.

Jonathan Wood
Arlington, Va.

Jeremy Miller’s article exposes one of the ways in which states and the federal government use the law to encourage — or at least turn a blind eye toward — the killing of wolves and other predators. The Department of Justice’s ill-advised McKittrick Policy, which the agency has never subjected to public comment or even formally announced, puts all endangered species at risk. A federal prosecutor once described to me how the policy prevented his office from prosecuting a man who had killed a California condor, because they lacked ironclad evidence that he knew he was killing North America’s largest bird.

Unfortunately, this threat to endangered species pales in comparison to a new one on the horizon. Republican leaders in Congress have announced that they will move to weaken the Endangered Species Act itself — the federal law that has protected the country’s most imperiled plants and wildlife for more than four decades. Without this legal bulwark, our children and grandchildren may never see a wolf — or many other species — outside a zoo.

Polls consistently show that most Americans strongly favor protecting endangered species; now would be an ideal time for people to convey this sentiment to their elected officials.

Daniel Rohlf
Professor of Law, Lewis and Clark Law School
Portland, Ore.

Women’s Work

A line in the January Harper’s Index noted that there are only nineteen statues of women in New York City’s Central Park, every one of which represents a fictional person. Undoubtedly we need more statues of historical women, but that statistic alone may give the wrong impression about women’s contributions to the park, which have been numerous and varied.

At the southern entrance, three equestrian statues of Latin American leaders dominate the plaza. Two of the three are by female sculptors. In 1916, Sally James Farnham’s design for the SimÓn Bolívar monument won a worldwide competition sponsored by the Venezuelan government, which presented the statue to New York five years later. Next to Farnham’s Bolívar stands Anna Hyatt Huntington’s exciting portrait of Cuban patriot José Martí, which depicts the moment he was mortally wounded in a battle for his country’s independence.

In the Thirties, the Parks Department commissioned a fountain at 77th Street, featuring characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as a memorial to Sophie Irene Loeb, a Russian-born journalist and social worker known as the “godmother of American children.” Loeb was elected president of the New York City Welfare Board in 1923, and the following year she helped to found the Child Welfare Committee of America. The reservoir in the middle of the park, from 86th to 96th Street, has, of course, been named the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.

Those are only some of the women whose lives and work have been honored with a place in Central Park. As important as it is to call attention to inequalities where they persist, it is just as important to know your history.

Edward F. Bergman
Professor Emeritus, City University of New York
New York City

Memory Loss

Rebecca Solnit’s most recent column shows that memory is both tenacious and tenuous [“The Monument Wars,” Easy Chair, January]. A locus of memory, such as an anthem or a flag, tells us who we are and who we aspire to be. Once a proud symbol of the secessionist South’s aspirations, the Confederate flag has long since become a symbol of slavery, Jim Crow oppression, and white supremacy. While Confederate flags and monuments should be removed from places of honor, they should not be hidden away. Like hominid remains, they belong in museums, as artifacts of the march toward equality and justice. They are a historical legacy showing America’s people who they are and where they have been. As Santayana observed, erasings of history condemn a people to relive their past.

G. W. Stephen Brodsky
Sidney, British Columbia

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