Photo Credit: Jeff Servoss, USFWS
How does the Endangered Species Act work? – Well, but only when species are formally listed under the law.
On the ESA Waiting List
The Endangered Species Act is one of the strongest environmental statutes in our nation—and the world—but it cannot protect a species that is not formally listed under the law.
After reviewing a species for listing, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has authority over land-based species, has three options: propose the species for “threatened” or “endangered” status; declare the species doesn’t warrant listing; or announce the species deserves to be listed, but can’t be proposed due to other, higher-priority actions (“warranted but precluded”). Species found to be “warranted but precluded” are placed on the candidate list, where they may wait indefinitely without protection under the Act. This loophole in the listing process delayed protection for years for hundreds of imperiled species. Such delays can have tragic effects: candidates have gone extinct while awaiting listing.
You Can Protect Endangered Species
If you value native wildlife and want to see all imperiled species protected, get the latest updates, action alerts, articles and event invites from WildEarth Guardians.
In 2011, more than 250 species were on the candidate list, and more than 80 percent of them were first recognized to warrant listing more than 10 years before that. Some species lingered on the candidate list for decades; for example, more than 50 plants petitioned by the Smithsonian Institute in 1975 were still stuck on the candidate list. “Higher-priority actions” that prevented candidate listing were often delayed, and the actual number of listings slowed to a near-standstill.
WildEarth Guardians broke this “listing logjam” by entering into a historic settlement agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requiring it to make final decisions on whether to protect 252 candidate species. The settlement concluded in September 2016, with about 70 percent of the candidate species either granted protections under the Endangered Species Act or proposed for listing.
Defend the Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act is our country’s most essential environmental law protecting plants and animals, yet some members of Congress want to weaken the law. Tell Congress you value native wildlife and want to see all imperiled species protected.
Recent Stories From Wildlife
Bold investments in the restoration of public lands, waters, and fish and wildlife habitat will create jobs and stimulate the economy
While our attention rightfully has been focused on the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the Trump administration has quietly been attacking our country on another front. On January 13, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to assist the National Rifle Association to recruit and train hunters to shoot wildlife.Read more >
Red Cliffs Desert Reserve acquires a new patch of desert tortoise habitat while the Northern Corridor Highway moves forward
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced this week its acquisition of just under 53 acres of land within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve that had been privately owned but will now be managed by the state for the benefit of the Mojave desert tortoise, a federally threatened species that thrives in this type of habitat.Read more >