December 28, 2019
By Erica Rymer, Events and Marketing Coordinator
The presents have all been opened, the carols have all been sung and the Christmas season has come to a close, but we still have a reason to celebrate this week! Today marks the 46th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), signed into law in 1973 by President Richard Nixon.
The ESA recognizes that nature has great “esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational and scientific value,” and provides protections for native plant and animal species in danger of extinction. Since its implementation, 99% of the species listed by the ESA have avoided extinction and 46 species have been recovered, including grizzly bears and bald eagles!
The ESA is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service. They help to classify which species are endangered and which are threatened. Endangered means that a species is in danger of becoming extinct throughout its native range. Threatened means that a species is at great risk of becoming endangered in the foreseeable future. All species aside from pest insects are able to be listed. As of today there are 2,244 species on the ESA’s endangered and threatened species lists. 1,618 of these species live in the United States.
Species can be listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service directly, or (more commonly) they may be spurred by a citizen petition to list a particular plant or animal. Once a species has been listed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service is required to provide a federally protected habitat and a recovery plan so that the state of the population can be improved.
More recently the ESA itself has been threatened by amendments proposed on August 12, 2019. Regulation changes would include no automatic prohibitions on harming, killing, import or export of newly listed species. It will also limit the space available for designation for the recovery of a listed species. The changes also make it harder to prepare for future potential threats to species, such as climate change.
If you would like to support the ESA, you can reach out to your Members of Congress to make your voice heard. Help us to ensure a future for every animal! Speak up for the protection of local and global wildlife!