Ah, I see. Quite a topic you open up, I'll say a little bit by bit:
Jimi the system I am referring is the ESA. Is there a tipping point in the realm of public support that is in danger of being surpassed by not embracing successes with endangered species?
The framing here is tough because there's no monolithic "public". Some local publics (commonly 1000's or 10,000's of people) are definitely well past the point of tolerating ESA, due in large part to what they feel is "welching on a deal". I.e., when recovery-plan objectives have been met but the species is still getting full ESA protection, and the local public is still having to endure the associated regulation. Some of these folks think the administration of ESA is so dysfunctional they would like to see the law ("an unjust hammer") blown up. Their elected representatives are happy (for reasons laudable and execrable) to try to do so; the last year has been exceptional
in that regard.
Some local publics reject the notion of a legitimate federal ("representing all
US citizens") stake or role in wildlife management. To me that's simply outside the established rule of law, and of American custom. It's utterly radical, even treasonous. It smacks of an intolerance, a repudiation, of our American system, and a preference for...something else entirely.
On the other scale extreme of state, national, or international publics (10,000,000's or even 100,000,000's of people), failure to communicate and celebrate ESA successes could lead to loss of support due to perceived inefficacy. Which is simply not the case. ESA has a simple purpose - preventing extinctions. Very, very few ESA-listed organisms have gone extinct; far fewer than non-listed ones. ESA has been very effective
from that standpoint - achieving its purpose. Repurposing ESA to achieve an animal-welfare political agenda is to me, immoral, illegal, and counterproductive. That is me talking softly. I could get loud about it.
To me, the constructive challenge is to maintain the effectiveness while reducing the collateral damage to something much more tolerable. A few thousand angry people can sometimes accomplish far more than a few hundred million apathetic ones. Plus, it just sucks
to hurt people for no reason. It's even worse to hurt them on account of lies ("the war on wolves will resume without ESA protection") or outdated information.
Is leaving an animal on the ES list that may not need to be there detrimental to other species that do need to be there because it may dilute the effectiveness of the ESA? Or is it beneficial to maintain the listing of a prominent species like grizzlies to help garner vicarious support for species like the Kanab ambersnail, even though the grizzlies may not need to be on the list?
It's detrimental for several reasons, including what I've said above. I would add that unnecessary retention on "the list"
1) consumes limited, and declining
resources (money, staff time, pro-stakeholder attention span, etc) that more-deserving candidates should get, and
2) also generates a lot of blowback such that it's REALLY hard to get protections for organisms that actually deserve it - it makes it harder to list other taxa, and
3) perversely, ESA listing also often makes it harder to manage the threats that need to be managed - you often have to push obscene amounts of paper just to be able to do what the recovery plan says needs doing
. Let alone what more-recent research has shown to be necessary, but which was not known at the time the plan was written. FWS staff - for whatever reasons, I'm sure there are some good ones - often focus more closely on potential "take" of individuals, than on population-level benefits of something you're trying to do. It's hard to get permission to do something that could make 100 or 1000 more, if you might, maybe, kill one. Even though you'd be up 99, or 999. It's weird, and it's frustrating as hell
I don't buy the "vicarious support" argument. If it needs listing, list it and then recover it if possible. If for any reason it no longer meets the legal definitions of endangered with extinction, or threatened with endangerment, I say get it off the list. Remember, there's the post-delisting monitoring period. Typically it's five time-steps. For something with short generations (e.g., butterfiles), that doesn't take long. For other things (e.g., tortoises), well...it might take centuries. If monitoring shows protections need to be reinstated, they can be.
Kanab ambersnail is a funny example - USGS just published a review paper on it, basically showing that many neighboring ambersnail populations, formerly thought to be other taxa, are actually the "same thing as" Kanabs. Or to be more correct, that the Kanabs never deserved their own name, as the thing they share so many characteristics with (both molecular and phenotypic), was actually named first. http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2013/5164/pdf/sir2013-5164.pdf
I'm curious about the context (wolf? condor? Utah prairie dog?) which led to your posing this question. Perhaps we can spend some time herping this spring or summer, for an extended chat.