The US Endangered Species Act of 1973 is one of the most effective, primary laws in the United States. Using science-based programs, 99% of species the Act protects have avoided extinction. Today, the ESA protects more than 2,200 listed species, including plants.


US Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species act

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for overseeing land and freshwater species and the NOAA National Marine and Fisheries Services oversees saltwater marine species.

noaa fish and wildlife endangered species act

These organizations review the status of a species on their own; however, concerned citizens or groups can petition the agencies to add species to the list. Under the Act, species may be recorded as endangered or threatened.

After that process, the agency in charge can appoint the species’ habitat as federally protected. They’ll also develop a plan to guide government and private efforts that help with the species’ recovery process.

US endangered species act animal conservation animal extinction


us endangered species act animal conservation animal extinction

The Act defines endangered as, “the species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant part of its range”. Those species have become so rare that they are very likely to become extinct in the future. If a species is listed as endangered, it is illegal to kill, harass, harm, or capture it without special permission.

Over-hunting, climatic change, and habitat loss lead to species landing on the endangered species list. This means that extinction rates may increase to a large extent in the future.

us endangered species act animal conservation animal extinction

Some examples of endangered species include grizzly bears, black-footed ferret, and humpback whale. The ESA also supports the conservation of listed species outside of the US, like tiger, giant panda, and Asian elephant.


In the Act, threatened is officially defined as “any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.”

US endangered species animal conservation animal extinction
us endangered species act animal conservation animal extinction

Threatened species may be given many of the same protections as endangered species. Giraffes, monarch butterflies, and polar bears are examples of threatened species that are protected.


Several species have been saved by this Act. The American alligator, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and the brown pelican are examples of species that were close to extinction, but are now recovering with the actions provided in the Act.

The bald eagle, with only 487 nesting pairs, was listed as an endangered species in 1967. Nowadays, it is determined that the species has recovered with an estimated 4,215 pairs and ESA has removed bald eagles from their list.

us endangered species act animal conservation animal extinction

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA continue to improve new technologies and management plans to ensure that the ESA stays effective so that the endangered species populations can revive and their habitats can recover.

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