It pays to keep a close eye on the folks in Harrisburg.

If we don't, they'll actually implement the buffoonish ideas they come up with.

The latest not-so-bright idea comes to us in the form of House Bill 449, also known as the Endangered Species Coordination Act.

The motive behind the proposed legislation is simple. Money. If it becomes law, the bill would force the agencies that manage the state's flora and fauna to follow the lead of the federal government when it comes to protecting species threatened with extinction.

Agencies such as the Game Commission would no longer be able to independently label a species as "endangered" or "threatened." They'd have to wait for the folks in Washington to do it first.

The effects of this proposal are huge. It would strip agencies of a vital power. It forces them to stand by as species' populations degrade to a level that qualifies for federal protection -- which often entails much stricter measures than are typically implemented on the state level.

Like just about everything in the political realm, this issue resolves around the world's all-powerful force -- money.

When a state agency adds a species to its endangered list, somebody in some industry is forced to change the way they do their job.

The prime example in this case is the Game Commission's desire to add three species of bats to the state's endangered list. With their numbers plunging by as much as 99 percent in just a few years, the need for protection was clear.

But the state's powerful logging industry disagreed. After all, if the bats were listed, logging operations would need to be modified. And that costs money, which costs jobs, which costs votes.

After pressure from lobbyists and a few select lawmakers in Harrisburg, the Game Commission backed away from its proposal. Now it may never have another shot.

The leading sponsor of House Bill 449, state Rep. Jeffrey Pyle, summed up his position well. He's not willing to sacrifice jobs to "save their little bats." In his mind, the state's wildlife are not as important as our coal, gas or timber industries. Or should I say, bats aren't as important as votes?

As sportsmen, you and I must show him and his colleagues why they are wrong. We must show them that man-made extinction creates an intangible cost that bankrupts the state's future generations. After all, once a species is gone, no amount of money can bring it back.

We are treading down a very steep slope. The way the health of the Susquehanna River has been politicized and downplayed is despicable. But if we add on the senseless ideas in House Bill 449, Pennsylvania will become an industrial free-for-all. The state's wildlife will be pushed to the gutter.

This is not a healthy trend. The state's wildlife agencies were built to protect our wild resources. If we strip them of their power, they will not be able to do their job. We will all suffer.

We must work hard to ensure House Bill 449 never finds its way into the law books.

Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@york