Factors influencing the effectiveness of local versus national protection of migratory species: a case study of lake sturgeon in the Great Lakes, North America

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As political administrations change, the focus on state versus federal management of endangered species can also shift. I present a case study evaluating the effectiveness of state protection of a migratory species in the absence of federal protection. The lake sturgeon, Acipenser fulvescens, in the Great Lakes Basin (North America), migrates across state, tribal, and international boundaries. The legislation, as well as its implementation, for the protection of endangered species in each state bordering the Great Lakes is evaluated and compared to the federal Endangered Species Act. The impact of state versus federal protection on tribal and international jurisdictions is assessed. Consistency in regulations among the states and countries varies. Of the eight states examined in this analysis, four extend protection to the level of species, two to subspecies, and two to populations. Many of the states have not explicitly included the destruction of habitat as a form of take. Citizen suits are permitted in three of the states examined, permitting citizen oversight of endangered species management. State endangered species legislation appears to be weaker than federal legislation. Despite this apparent weakness, state management of the lake sturgeon has been successful. Jurisdictional coordination through the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and voluntary management efforts have helped facilitate this success.

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  • Amy B. Welsh

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