Recognizing that extinction is irreversible, the United States did in 1973 what no country had done before, establishing what amounts to a bill of rights for animals and plants: The Endangered Species Act. The Act reflected the resolve of a society mature enough to guarantee a future not just for itself but for the rest of creation, even if difficult choices might be required.
More than forty years later, America continues to stand behind that guarantee.
According to a new national poll conducted in June 2015, 90% of American voters support the Act—impressive results in an era of partisan strife when it’s hard to get Americans to agree on anything:
In Support of the Endangered Species Act:
Support the Endangered Species Act.
Decisions on Species Protections:
Choose a science-based approach: Biologists, not Congress, should make decisions on which species should and should not be protected.
Growing The Economy:
Believe we can protect our natural heritage for future generations, while also growing our economy and creating jobs.
A 3 Question Quiz:
How Well Do You Know The Endangered Species Act?
The Fish & Wildlife Service has primary responsibility for terrestrial and freshwater organisms, while the responsibilities of the National Marine Fisheries Service are mainly marine wildlife such as whales and anadromous fish, such as salmon.
The Council on Environmental Quality is part of the Executive Office of the President and coordinates federal environmental efforts, working with agencies and other White House offices to develop environmental policies and initiatives.
The American peregrine falcon was one of the first species protected under the Act. By 1975, there were only 324 known nesting pairs. With the Act's protections, the peregrine falcon recovered enough to graduate off the list of endangered species in 1999. Today, there are around 2,000–3,000 breeding pairs in North America.
Steller's sea cow, formerly abundant throughout the North Pacific, was extinct by 1768—within three decades of its discovery by Europeans. Its closest living relatives, the manatee and dugong, are both listed as Endangered today.
To quote the beginning of the Act: "The purposes of this Act are to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved [and] to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered species and threatened species …" (Read the full text.)
Since its creation, the Endangered Species Act has served as one of the world’s strongest, most effective wildlife protection laws.
Stemming the tide of extinctions is the most important indicator of the Endangered Species Act’s effectiveness. Four decades with the Act has demonstrated the importance of its legal safety net: The Endangered Species Act has been 99% effective.
Because of the Endangered Species Act, today’s children are able to experience not only bald eagles but also orcas, alligators, grizzly bears and myriad other creatures as living, breathing parts of our natural heritage—not as dusty museum specimens:
Did You Know?
Did You Know?
Did You Know?
Today, more than 2,000 species are protected under the Act.
However, like all laws, the Endangered Species Act is only words on paper—unless it is enforced.
In writing the law, the Congress of 1973 realized that, for this law to work, citizens needed to be able to go to court to uphold its provisions.
Earthjustice, born in the same era as the Endangered Species Act, has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure this critical statute is enforced and allowed to realize its visionary promise:
David Hinkel / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Barry O'Neill / National Park Service
Dale Kolke / California Department of Water Resources
Neal Herbert / National Park Service
Kevin Megown / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Courtesy of Miles Ritter
Crew & Officers of NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER
With the Endangered Species Act, Earthjustice has acted in the interest of hundreds of plants and animals to ensure their survival. But that is not all.
Sustaining endangered wildlife has meant cleaning up waterways, improving pesticide protections, and preserving wild places that provide a long-term, low-cost source of clean air and water and offer a quiet refuge in our increasingly noisy, crowded world.
Wild creatures need these things. And we do, too.
By preserving endangered species, we help to preserve ourselves.
But today, some politicians in Congress are out of step with the American public.
Inside the walls of the Capitol, legislative proposals put specific imperiled wildlife species on the chopping block—while others attack core provisions of the Endangered Species Act itself.
The Endangered Species Act must be defended. Will you remind Congress of your support for this visionary law?
From June 25–29, 2015, Tulchin Research conducted a scientific survey online among a representative sample of 600 registered voters across the United States. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 4 percentage points. (Complete results.)