If You Hear a Hoot, Then This Site is Kaput

EDUCATOR'S VERSION

This lesson printed from:
http://www.econedlink.org/e137

Posted December 22, 1998

Standard: 17

Grades: 9-12

Author: Steve Reff

Posted: December 22, 1998

Updated: April 9, 2008

DESCRIPTION

Should the Endangered Species Act of 1973 be left alone so the legal system is left to decide the toughest cases? Should the Endangered Species Act of 1973 be revised in order to increase economic growth without endangering listed species? Can this even happen? In this EconomicsMinute, you will learn about which species are covered under the 1973 Endangered Species Act, the different organizations and their philosophies on how to protect these species, and how each group's policies are driven by self interest as you weigh each group's costs and benefits.

KEY CONCEPTS

Cost/Benefit Analysis, Trade-off


INTRODUCTION

Should the Endangered Species Act of 1973 be left alone so the legal system is lsealeft to decide the toughest cases? Should the Endangered Species Act of 1973 be revised in order to increase economic growth without endangering listed species? Can this even happen? In this lesson, you will learn about which species are covered under the 1973 Endangered Species Act, the different organizations and their philosophies on how to protect these species, and how each group's policies are driven by self interest as you weigh each group's costs and benefits.

RESOURCES


PROCESS

Have students go to the web site:

Endangered Species and read the summary of The Endangered Species Act of 1973 from the Encyclopedia of Public Health and the Law Encyclopedia. Answer the following questions:

1. How many species were included when the Endangered Species Act of 1973 was put in place?

2. How does a species come to be on the endangered list?

3. What are some of the causes for endangerment of species?

4. What happens once a species is listed as endangered, according to government regulations?

Now have the students visit Earth's Endangered Creatures site , to view a list of the species in North America that are endangered. By looking at those in North America the students will be able to apply the lesson to their own society.

Have the students pick a species from this list to research. Have them find a picture and write description of the species in a word document. Make sure to inform the students that some species have more information available than others, and they should choose a species that answers the following questions.

  • What conservation efforts are being undertaken?sea turtle

  • How long has it been listed as endangered?

  • What threatens it?

  • Is it a vertebrate or invertebrate?

  • If it is an animal, list items in its diet.

Before the students begin their research explain a few terms. Vertebrates are animals that have a backbone or spinal column and invertebrates do not have a backbone. You may also want to familiarize or refresh student's minds on examples of the following animals:

  1. Amphibians - frogs, toads, and salamanders

  2. Arachnids - spiders, scorpions, mites, and ticks

  3. Crustaceans - lobster, shrimp, crab, water fleas, and barnacles

[Note to teacher: You should determine how much time to allow for research. Note that not much time needs to be devoted to this part, as the core of the lesson is to follow.]

Cost/benefit analysis is vital when determining whether or not to save an endangered species habitat or to follow through with urban development plans.

owlAs you will read in the next web site, an urban-sprawling town of Tucson, Arizona has a school district on the northwest side of town with a high school that can operate effectively with just over 2,000 students. It now has over 3,000 students. The district bought a 40-acre parcel a few years ago to build a new high school to alleviate the overcrowding problem at the one high school; however, an endangered species might be living on the property.

Read the story "Owl Play."

Select a group from the list below to represent in an arbitration hearing.

  1. Students at the overcrowded high school

  2. Parents of students at the overcrowded high school

  3. Residents in the neighborhood who are opposed to the high school

  4. Residents in the neighborhood who are in favor of the high school being built

  5. School board members

  6. Defenders of wildlife

  7. The arbitrator

Instead of examining the impact of the endangered owl that is the subject of the "Owl Play" article, imagine that the endangered species that you researched above is the one resident on school property. Come up with a list of costs and benefits for building the school from your group's point of view. For each item in your list, identify the timing of each. For instance, does a particular benefit occur immediately, or does it lie in the distant future? Be prepared to argue the case in front of an arbitrator.