Policy Update

NCEL Monthly Messenger: Support for the U.S. Endangered Species Act Over Time and Space



NCEL Point of Contact

Ruth Musgrave
Conservation Senior Advisor

Despite Claims of Controversy Around ESA, Most Americans Display Strong Support

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 1973 with large bipartisan support in Congress. Today the idea that the ESA is controversial has become a common criticism in efforts to amend the law. But is the law really controversial among Americans?

Researchers used data from four surveys conducted between 1996-2015 to determine if there has been a decline in Americans’ support for the ESA and if controversial species affect this support.

The results were all fairly consistent with a mean support of 83.2% in favor of ESA. There was still a majority of support for ESA when broken down among special interests and political ideology. The study also found that there was consistent support for the ESA across various regions of the US. This supports the idea that controversial species do not have an impact on Americans’ opinion of ESA. If it did, there should be varying levels of support due to different histories of ESA protections in different regions.

If you would like assistance or more information on endangered species or conservation issues, please contact Ruth Musgrave, NCEL’s Senior Advisor on Conservation.