Conservation Crossroads: Extinction or Recovery?

In the middle of the 20th century, Americans looked around them and saw that something was terribly wrong. Species of plants and animals – even some as beloved as the bald eagle, America’s national symbol – were disappearing. At that point in our history, we determined that we have a responsibility to future generations to conserve our natural heritage, and in 1973, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) – a law that has prevented the extinction of hundreds of species of plants and animals, and set many on successful paths to recovery.  

But 40 years later, wildlife is once again at a crossroads, and the need to speed up recovery efforts could not be more urgent.  We must put the majority of protected species on the path to recovery before they slip further toward extinction. Constant congressional attacks attempt to undermine the ESA’s authority or cut its funding to a point where the program can no longer function.  And the impacts of climate change are putting more and more species in need of ESA protections.  

We need more people to stand up and take action to move imperiled wildlife closer to recovery. As part of this campaign, you can: 

  • Help convince legislators to support policies to combat climate change
  • Fight attempts to weaken the Endangered Species Act
  • Educate decision-makers about actions they can take to renew the nation’s commitment to saving imperiled wildlife 

When they passed the Endangered Species Act, our nation’s leader realized we were at a crossroads, and they chose the path of recovery. Now, once again, two roads are before us and the one we choose will define our nation for decades to come. 

Read more about the history of the ESA, and the choices America has made to protect its wildlife. 

Become a Citizen Advocate
Learn About the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

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US Capitol Building, © Architect of the Capitol
Where We Work
From our headquarters in Washington, D.C., Defenders works directly with federal agencies, members of Congress, and other government officials to advocate on behalf of wildlife and wild places across the U.S. and around the world.
Defenders in Action
Bears die when they get into trouble with people’s garbage, livestock, when they are hit by cars and trains or illegally killed. By preventing these conflicts we can keep bears alive and on the road to recovery.
Wildlife trafficking, © John and Karen Hollingsworth/USFWS
In the Magazine
U.S. consumer demand fuels illegal wildlife trade, jeopardizing imperiled species around the globe