The 1973 Endangered Species Act is the nation’s chief federal wildlife protection statute. It provides for conservation and protection of species determined to be endangered or threatened under the act. The law also directs federal agencies to ensure that their actions, such as building dams or granting construction permits to private companies, do not jeopardize endangered or threatened species, or harm their critical habitat. The act also implements the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international treaty to regulate trade in endangered wildlife.
An endangered species is a plant or animal determined by the US F&WS to be in eminent danger of extinction. Species designated, or ‘listed,’ as endangered are accorded special federal protection under the 1973 Act. Similar protections are provided for species listed under the act as ‘threatened,’ those found to be in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.
Science & Reports
- Bang for our Buck: The Economic Benefits of Saving Imperiled Species – Defenders of Wildlife, 2013
This information sheet points out that the economic benefits of endangered and imperiled species are huge and are not often considered. For example, bats provide $6 billion in pest control; whale-watchers spend over $1 billion per year in the U.S. and Canada; Pacific salmon restoration value is well over $500 million; and many endangered species hold critical medicinal cures for humans. The full report is available here.
- Poll Shows Overwhelming Broad-Based Public Support for the Endangered Species Act Among Voters Nationwide – Tulchin Research, July 2015
A nationwide survey by Tulchin Research found that 9 of 10 voters support the ESA, with only 7 percent opposing it. This memo on the results of the 2015 survey indicates that a whopping 82% of self-identified conservative voters support the ESA, and 68% of total voters would be more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports environmental safeguards such as the ESA. The complete memo is available here.
- On Time, On Target: How the ESA is Saving America’s Wildlife – Center for Biological Diversity, 2012
This report by the Center for Biological Diversity studies 110 species across the nation listed under the ESA and finds that the ESA actually has a remarkable recovery rate. Ninety percent of listed species are recovering at the rate specified by their federal recovery plan. The full report is available here.
- State Endangered Species Acts: Law, Policy and Perspectives, 2nd Edition – American Bar Association, 2010
Wildlife attorneys George and Snape perform an exhaustive survey of state-level endangered species in all 50 states, comparing provisions for listing, protections, and recovery, including recommendations for action. This article remains the seminal work on state endangered species acts, and can be accessed here.
- Status of the States: Innovative State Strategies for Biodiversity Conservation – Environmental Law Institute, 2001
Despite being an older report, this ELI report effectively summarizes state efforts to protect biodiversity within their borders. The complete report is available here.
- State of the Birds — National Audubon Society, 2014
This 2014 report on the state of birds, authored by the U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, is a sobering analysis of the recent dramatic decline in bird species, mostly caused by habitat loss and fragmentation: http://www.stateofthebirds.org/2014%20SotB_FINAL_low-res.pdf. It includes a watch list of 233 bird species in danger of extinction if conservation measures are not taken soon. The full report is available here, and the watch list is available here.
Defenders of Wildlife compiled a chart of over 85 attacks on the Endangered Species Act pending in the 114th Congress as of August 2015. This 55-page chart includes bills, riders and amendments that either delist endangered species, exclude them from listing, or weaken entire provisions of the ESA. For Interior Appropriations alone, for example, there are no less than 16 measures pending to strip or weaken ESA protections. The full chart is available here, and the Appropriations list here.
- Endangered Species Map By State — US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015
This interactive state-by-state map highlights species success stories and current conservation efforts. The map is available here.
- Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund Grants – U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015
This information sheet by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service outlines the almost $49 million in grants to states to participate in voluntary conservation projects in FY 2015 under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act. The document is available here.
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Interactive Site for ESA-listed Species in States – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Environmental Conservation Online System, or ECOS, has an interactive site which will show the ESA-listed species for each state and county, which is available here. ECOS also has interactive lists of all endangered and threatened plants and animals, as well as a critical habitat portal, available here.
- Which States Have the Most Endangered Species? – Mother Nature Network, 2015
A colorful infographic, published in Mother Nature Network on September 21, 2015, shows which states have the most endangered species of wildlife and plants. The full infographic is available here.
- The Economic Benefits of Saving Imperiled Species — Defenders of Wildlife, 2013
Defenders created a fact sheet of endangered species that highlights medicinal, tourism and other benefits derived from the survival of species. The fact sheet is available here.
- Endangered Species Act: Law, Policy, and Perspectives — American Bar Association, 2010 handbook
See chapter with discussion and comparison of all states’ endangered species acts.
- Assault on Wildlife: the Endangered Species Act under Attack — Defenders of Wildlife, 2011
This report details attacks on the Endangered Species Act and breaks down various bills and amendments targeting wildlife. The full report is available here.
Recent News Stories
A new op-ed by Cassandra Carmichael, Executive Director of the National Religious Partnerships for the Environment, defends the Endangered Species Act and underscores the religious reasons for ensuring policies value every species on the planet. From the article: “Protecting the environment and strengthening the economy are not mutually exclusive — in fact, study after […]
A new Gallup poll found that 53% of Americans oppose opening federal lands for oil exploration, compared with just 34% who were against the idea five years ago. The findings come as the federal government considers expanding energy production on public lands. More Information: An NBC News story on the results is available here. The Gallup […]
The last week has seen major national and international developments to address wildlife trafficking, and states are positioned to take even stronger action. On September 21, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the END Wildlife Trafficking Act (HR 2494). The bill addresses global poaching and illegal trafficking of elephant ivory by identifying nations that […]
This session, the Colorado State Legislature passed a bill to establish a public lands day in the state. The bill was sponsored by State Senator Kerry Donovan, and passed on May 11, 2016. Recent years have seen increased pressure from anti-environmental groups to force a shift of ownership or control of public lands from the […]