Friday, May 24, 2013

2013: The 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act

Some examples of species protected by the ESA in the Southeast (clockwise): Tar River spinymussel, West Indian manatee, Puerto Rican parrot, Florida panther, piping plover, red wolf, and Tennessee purple coneflower (USFWS photo credits).

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted on December 28, 1973.  In the past 40 years since, it has been one of the world’s most influential laws on species conservation.  The ESA has been credited with saving 99 percent of listed species from extinction and has contributed to countless species recovery efforts.

Today, the ESA protects 1,436 domestic species and 618 foreign species. Domestically, flowering plants make up the bulk of the protected species (54%).  The red wolf is one of 85 threatened and endangered species listed in the U.S. The red wolf was actually one first species to be listed.  Initially, about 50 species were protected under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, which later became the ESA.  Many of these species are imperiled for the same reasons: habitat loss and degradation. Increasing population growth and development continue to threaten habitat for plants and wildlife. Over the years, ESA had protected habitat and ecosystems resulting through programs like habitat conservation plans, safe harbor agreements, and conservation banks in the delisting of approximately 60 species and the reclassification of ~35 species.  

To learn more about the ESA, you can visit USFWS Endangered Species webpage or download the USFWS ESA Factsheet.

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