Endangered Species Act

Endangered Species Act 101

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the strongest and most important federal law protecting imperiled wildlife and plants. For nearly 40 years, the ESA has helped prevent the extinction of our nation's wildlife treasures, including beloved American icons such as the bald eagle, the Florida manatee and the California condor.

Less than one percent of the more than 2,000 plants and animals protected by the Act worldwide have ever been formerly delisted due to extinction – an astonishing success rate. The Endangered Species Act also benefits people by maintaining healthy natural systems that provide us with clean air and water, food, medicines and other products that we all need to live healthy lives. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment and leave behind a legacy of protecting endangered species and the special places they call home.

Threats to the Endangered Species Act

Although a strong majority of Americans still hold the same conservation values that created the ESA decades ago, unrelenting pressure from various commercial industries and ultra-conservative political interests continue to threaten this vital piece of environmental legislation, attempting to override or severely weaken the Act or  slash its funding to a point where it can no longer accomplish its goals. As more species are found to warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act, it is more important than ever that this vital tool for wildlife conservation be kept strong and capable of preventing extinctions and putting imperiled species back on the road to a successful recovery.

What Defenders is Doing for the Endangered Species Act

Defenders of Wildlife works on several fronts to ensure that the ESA can continue to prevent extinctions and promote imperiled species’ recovery. We develop new ways to make the act more effective, advocate to protect and increase federal funding for the ESA, oppose all legislative attacks that would weaken the law, and make sure that those responsible for implementing the Act’s provisions and regulations are held accountable when they fail to enforce the law.

More on Endangered Species Act : Defenders in Action »

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Wildlife trafficking, © John and Karen Hollingsworth/USFWS
In the Magazine
U.S. consumer demand fuels illegal wildlife trade, jeopardizing imperiled species around the globe
Endangered Species Act
Wildlife is once again at a crossroads, and the need to speed up recovery efforts could not be more urgent.