Defenders of Wildlife’s Endangered Species Policy program works to make U.S. endangered species policy more effective and efficient at conserving wildlife. We focus primarily on improving how the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) is administered. Using our expertise in wildlife policy, law, and science, we find and promote opportunities to adopt better ESA policies, regulations, and guidance. Our work covers almost all aspects of the ESA, but focuses mostly on recovery planning, habitat conservation, permitting, listing, and conservation tools to prevent listing in the first place.
Endangered Species Policy Team
On the Blog: dotWild
Expert analysis of policy, legal, and science issues from our Endangered Species Policy Team .
Defenders in Action: Incentivizing Candidate Species Conservation
Defenders supports the use of incentives to conserve species that are “candidates” for listing under the ESA. By deploying conservation measures as early as possible, we can reduce the time and cost of recovering candidate species. We are currently helping to develop a system for rewarding early conservation through the use of “credits” issued by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Over the past year, we and other conservation groups have encouraged the Service to support pilot projects to demonstrate the use of this crediting system. In January of 2012, for example, we submitted a letter of support  to the Service. Two months later, the Service requested public comments  on how it can create this system. We are currently responding to the request by offering recommendations on creating pilot projects.
Comment Letters on Endangered Species Issues
To provide you with a better understanding of some of our work, we have posted below several of our comment letters on key ESA policy issues.
- A novel approach to “incidental take” permitting under sections 6 and 7 of the ESA (letter) 
- Suggestions on administrative improvements under the ESA (letter) 
- Recovery of gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes regions (letter) 
- Revising the taxonomic status of gray wolves under the ESA (letter)