Endangered Species



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

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

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

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

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

Despite being an older report, this ELI report effectively summarizes state efforts to protect biodiversity within their borders. The complete report is available here

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

This interactive state-by-state map highlights species success stories and current conservation efforts. The map is available here

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

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

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

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

See chapter with discussion and comparison of all states’ endangered species acts.

This report details attacks on the Endangered Species Act and breaks down various bills and amendments targeting wildlife. The full report is available here



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