Legal Protection of Species
Once a species is listed, the Fish and Wildlife Service, or NOAA Fisheries, must consult with other federal agencies to ensure that the actions they fund, approve, or implement do not endanger the species or its habitat. In 1973, the bald eagle was one of the first species to be listed by ESA, as pesticides, trophy hunting and habitat destruction decimated their population to about 400 breeding pairs. Their listing helped accelerate the ban on the pesticide DDT and led to habitat conservation and captive breeding efforts. Bald eagle populations in the neighboring United States have reached more than 10,000 breeding pairs. When an organism lists a species, the Endangered Species Act requires that it simultaneously designate critical habitat and create a restoration plan, which is a roadmap outlining actions to help the species recover and eventually thrive in the wild. As with species listings, the identification of critical habitat usually involves litigation – the federal government rarely does this alone. And often, it doesn`t provide enough essential living space to get the job done, requiring even more litigation from the center. If the centre suspects that a species needs to be protected, our scientists study the species to verify – and determine if it needs a “threatened” or “endangered” status. (Endangered species are plants and animals so rare that they are threatened with extinction; threatened species are plants and animals that could be threatened in all or a significant part of their range for the foreseeable future.) Section 3 of the Act defines various terms. Species are defined to include named subspecies and plant varieties, as well as complete species. For example, the subspecies Argemone pleiacantha ssp.
pinnatisecta and the variety Echinocereus fendleri var. Kuenzleri is on the list of threatened plant species. Threatened is defined as any species threatened with extinction in all or a substantial part of its range. Threatened is defined as any species that could become endangered in the foreseeable future in all or a substantial part of its range. Critical habitat is defined as specific areas that are essential to the conservation of a species and require special management or protection. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identifies these areas on maps as part of a formal process. Once identified, critical habitat is protected more strongly than other areas.
Read our 2012 study of 110 species showing the success of the Endangered Species Act, On Time, On Target: How the Endangered Species Act Is Saving America`s Wildlife. The National Park Service works with these agencies to conduct appropriate conservation and restoration activities and minimize negative impacts on endangered species in the parks. This convention (better known by its acronym CITES) is an agreement between governments around the world to ensure that international trade in wildlife does not threaten their survival. CITES began in 1975 with 80 participating countries. Today, 169 countries participate and the agreement protects more than 30,000 plant and animal species. Three key provisions give teeth to the law. The “citizen complaints” provision allows public interest groups and individuals to seek and sue lazy federal agencies to ensure the law protects species as intended. Meanwhile, the identification of critical habitat – often enforced through the citizen prosecution provision – requires these organisms to protect land and water, as well as species to survive and recover. Finally, the consultation provision of the Act requires that federal agencies not endanger protected species or “adversely alter” their critical habitat in any measure they fund, approve or implement. More than 1,600 animals and plants are protected or “listed” as endangered or threatened in the United States.
But there are hundreds more waiting to be protected under this crucial law. Unfortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife process was too slow for species to be listed, taking an average of 12 years to protect the species, whereas by law it only took two. While the law works by protecting individual species or subspecies, at best, it provides landscape protection for additions to species and their ecosystems. The centre leads the country in the number of species we have protected through petitions, lawsuits and negotiations. We have documented a number of our successes in the United States. Regions such as the Northeast and with key types at state and national level, and we continue to work on systematic evaluations of the performance of the law. Other studies on the legal protection of species are included in “Threat: Use of biological resources – Using legislative regulations to protect wild populations”. 2013 SUCCESS STORIES: • Island Night Lizard • Mountain Shagreen magazine • 38 Hawaiian species ESA also supports the conservation of listed species outside the United States and is the law through which the United States enforces the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES is a global agreement between governments to comply with rules to monitor, regulate or prohibit international trade in endangered species and is a key instrument in the fight against illegal wildlife trade. “Threatened” means that a species is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. Over the past four decades, the Endangered Species Act has demonstrated time and again that when applied to the full extent of the law, it works.
The law has been more than 99% successful in preventing extinction. Without the law, scientists estimate that at least 227 species would likely have gone extinct since the law was passed in 1973. “Endangered” means that a species is threatened with extinction in all or a significant part of its range.