PROTECTION OF ENDANGERED SPECIES


Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders of Wildlife
1130 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 1-800-385-9712

defenders@mail.defenders.org

What is the Endangered Species Act?
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 1973 in order to protect those plant and animal species that are at risk of becoming extinct. Species that receive protection under the ESA are classified into two categories, "Endangered" or "Threatened," depending on their status (how many are left in the wild) and how severely their survival is threatened. A species that is listed as Endangered is in danger of becoming extinct throughout a significant portion of its habitat range (the areas where it lives). Threatened species are those that are likely to become Endangered in the foreseeable future.

How does a species get "listed?"
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), a bureau of the Department of the Interior, is responsible for listing, delisting, and reclassifying the species protected by the ESA. When it is proposed that a species be listed as Threatened or Endangered, the FWS announces the proposal in the Federal Register, a publication of the US government. The public is then allowed to comment on the proposal for a set period of time, letting the FWS know whether or not they agree or disagree with the proposal. The FWS then decides whether to approve, revise or withdraw the proposal. This same process is used when it is proposed that a species be delisted or reclassified. A species is proposed for delisting when it appears to have recovered enough to no longer need protection under the ESA. A species is proposed for reclassification if the status of the species worsens (the species moves from Threatened to Endangered) or if the status improves (the species moves from Endangered to Threatened). The process of listing, delisting or reclassifying a species can take a year or longer.

How are listed species protected?
The Endangered Species Act outlines a number of protective measures that are designed to preserve species that have been listed as Endangered or Threatened. These measures include restrictions on hunting, transporting and trading (buying and selling) the species. Also, the USFWS is authorized to develop recovery plans for Endangered and Threatened species, which outline the steps that need to be taken for the species to recover and eventually be removed from the ESA.

How many species are protected by the Endangered Species Act?
As of May 31, 2000, there are 1051 animal species protected under the Endangered Species Act. 368 animal species are listed as Endangered in the United States, and 518 are listed as Endangered in foreign countries. 128 animal species are Threatened in the United States, and 37 are Threatened in foreign countries. There are 738 plant species protected under the ESA. 593 are Endangered in the United States, and 1 is Endangered in foreign countries. 142 plant species are Threatened in the United States, and 2 are Threatened in foreign countries. There are 1789 total species protected by the ESA.

In what other ways are endangered species protected?
Endangered species are protected by more than just the Endangered Species Act. Local laws, enforced by state governments and state Departments of Natural resources protect species in different states of the United States. Groups of species are protected by specific acts such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Many foreign countries have laws protecting their endangered species. Endangered species are protected on international levels as well. For example, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an agreement between150 countries worldwide. Endangered species are listed under one of two appendices of CITES (pronounced sigh-tees). If a species is listed under Appendix I, the member countries have agreed not to trade (buy and sell) that species commercially. If a species is listed under Appendix II, the member countries have agreed to trade that species commercially only if it does not endanger the survival of the species.

For more information, please visit http://endangered.fws.gov


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