According to a report in The Hill, the dreaded government shutdown materialized at midnight last night and a quick resolution is looking less likely as the House and Senate continue to play hot potato with the funding bill.
The House conservative faction wants to add a load of mandates to the bill that includes delaying Obamacare for a year (although open enrollment starts today) and the Senate won’t approve anything but a clean bill without being extorted into accepting unrelated rules that tea party Republicans demand.
Effective immediately, 800,000 federal employees will be furloughed for the first time in 17 years and D.C. museums and national monuments, including the Statue of Liberty will be closed. This hit to the US economy comes on the heels of sequestration cuts and government spending has already been pared to the bone for the next eight years.
Republicans claim they want to control spending, but the 1995 shutdown cost the taxpayers approximately $1.4 billion dollars.
The shutdown doesn’t bode well for wildlife and means that 394 national parks and wildlife refuges will be closed and conservation work will cease.
National Wildlife Federation (NWF) points to one example of many; the endangered ocelot, which has less than one hundred animals remaining in the US, will have their habitat conservation work suspended.
NWF released a statement on the shutdown and how it will impact wildlife:
“The US Fish and Wildlife Service, is responsible for implementing and enforcing some of our nation’s most important environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act. During the shutdown, no permitting work or consultations regarding these regulations will go forward, stopping promising [wildlife] conservation work in its tracks.”
Americans and foreign tourists, many traveling miles from remote places, will not have access to the Grand Canyon, Crater Lake National Park, Yosemite or Yellowstone, to name just a few.
Yellowstone is very popular this time of year for travelers to see bull elk and hear their eerie calls warning off other bulls from their females. Some visitors have been coming every year since they were children to enjoy the rare observation of nature up close.
Tourists not able to see one of the biggest herds of elk hanging out near cabins, unafraid of humans, will also miss out on seeing Old Faithful, the geyser and 61 other species of mammals that include the following listed on Yellowstone’s website:
- Black bears; more than 500 grizzlies live in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
- Gray wolves were restored in 1995; more than 370 live in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
- Wolverine and Lynx live in the park and are some of the rarest mammals to spot.
- Seven native species of ungulates—elk, mule deer, bison, moose, bighorn sheep, pronghorn and white-tailed deer—live here, including one of the largest herds of elk in the United States.
- Non-native mountain goats have colonized the northwestern and northeastern portions of the park.
As the bitter epic battle continues in Congress over government funding the fact that people traveling from home or half way around the world to see America’s wildlife and other treasures—only to be shut out—is not a consideration to peevish Republicans trying to bully their way into getting what they want and polls show they are the ones who will be held accountable for a self-serving act that will hurt, frustrate and anger a lot of people and put wildlife in peril.
Paychecks of Congress members will not be affected.