Saturday, January 4, 2014

Endangered spider find shuts down construction and bankrupts construction company

You may remember the story about the spider find shutting down a $15 million highway project a bit over a year ago.  If not, here's a recap:
in San Antonio, Texas, the discovery of a Braken Bat Cave meshweaver, an eyeless spider named for the unique web it spins, has halted a highway construction project. 
The $15 million project was stopped until authorities can determine how to protect the spider's habitat, which happens to be in the middle of the construction zone. The meshweaver had not been seen in three decades, and biologists like Jean Krejca have been on hand to "observe and preserve" the site because it is filled with natural resources like songbirds and cave animals. Krejca compared the discovery of the meshweaver to "stumbling on a new Galapagos Island in terms of the biological significance of the region." Though only one spider was found, researchers believe the entire area might be a habitat for the meshweaver.
After spending more than two million dollars, this project has been shut down for more than a year, and will remain shut down until they complete a redesign that the federal government approves. Nice to know that one spider has such quality representation in our government.  When it's people in the way, usually the government either cites eminent domain to force people out, or uses a small unpaid tax bill to steal their property out from under them.  Yep, our government sure does like spiders more than people.

Furthermore, Ballenger Construction has indicated that the halting of this project is one of the reasons they went bankrupt.  So in addition to the millions of wasted taxpayer dollars, the termination of the project is in part responsible for the loss of more than five hundred jobs and the sad end of a nearly eighty year old family owned business. 

I know many of us are keen on protecting endangered species, but we really need to think about protecting people too. It's ridiculous to place a higher value on a spider than on people.  We're talking about one spider, out of one species out of the more than three dozen species found in Texas, four thousand species found in the U.S., and forty thousand species found in the world.  In exchange for protecting this spider, we've allowed the government to hurt hundreds of people and waste millions of dollars.

I am going to take issue with this damned spider even being on the endangered species list.  According to Wikipedia, only two specimens have ever been collected.  How can we call a species endangered if we don't know anything about it?  It lives in caves, for fuck's sake.  How many damned caves are there?  How well studied are they?  How many smaller than a dime sized spiders are you going to be able to find in a cave with no freaking light?  Millions of dollars lost and lives destroyed over one misclassified fucking spider.

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