director Blog : Endangered Species Act

Gray Wolves are Recovered; Next Up, the Mexican Wolf

wolfWe are proposing to remove gray wolves from the list of threatened and endangered species throughout the United States and Mexico. Photo by Gary Kramer/USFWS

As many of you probably know, my dad had a great, 37-year career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and he describes the outfit as a collection of people who get things done -- doers.  Nowhere is that trait more proudly displayed than in our four decade effort to restore the gray wolf to the American landscape, bringing the species back from extirpation and exile from the contiguous United States.

I'm the 16th Director of the Service. It was the 10th, John Turner, a Wyoming rancher and outfitter, appointed by a Republican President, who signed the record of decision that set in motion this miraculous reintroduction and recovery. It's never been easy. We've had critics, fair and unfair. We've had great partners. Sometimes they have been one in the same. But this organization and its people have been constant. Steadfast. Committed. Professional. Determined. Now add successful!

More information on the wolf recovery

This great predator again roams the range, ridges and remote spaces of the Northern Rocky Mountains and the Western Great Lakes in one of the spectacular successes of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  These recovered populations are not just being tolerated, but are expanding under professional management by our state partners.

Today, for one reason, and one reason only, we are proposing to remove the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species throughout the United States and Mexico -- they are no longer in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future.

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Plenty to Celebrate on Endangered Species Day

On May 17, 2013, we’ll celebrate the eighth annual Endangered Species Day.

Bald  eagleAfter nearly disappearing from most of the U.S., the bald eagle recovered and was removed from ESA protection in 2007. Photo by Peter Davis, USFWS

And celebration is especially in order as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. During the last 40 years, plants and animals have continued to face a barrage of threats – habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and climate change – but the ESA reflects an unwavering national commitment to prevent species extinctions and to protect the habitat and ecosystems essential to species recovery. It is one of the world’s most powerful and successful conservation laws.

That success in saving species from extinction and helping them recover is fueled by the dedication and hard work of employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Because of their commitment to conservation, gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes, the American alligator, bald eagle and Tennessee purple coneflower have all fully recovered and no longer need federal protection. We can also celebrate that many other species, such as the black-footed ferret, whooping crane, karner blue butterfly and California condor have been brought back from the very brink of extinction and are making major strides in their path to recovery.   

We have much success to celebrate but also much more work to do. The challenges the conservation world faces are daunting and growing, calling us to be more innovative, to create more conservation incentives and to work even more closely with our partners.    

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CITES: Fighting Illegal Wildlife Trade, Ensuring Sustainable Legal Trade

CoP logo

I am in Bangkok, Thailand, this week for the 16th meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP16) for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, which started Sunday. CITES is an international treaty on wildlife trade that helps ensure that trade does not threaten species’ survival in the wild.

CITES was signed by 21 nations in Washington, DC, on March 3, 1973. Later that same year – on December 28 – the Endangered Species Act (ESA) became law.

Both are celebrating their 40th anniversaries this year, and the world’s wildlife has been the big beneficiary.

Forty years after its signing, CITES has 178 member nations working to protect more than 34,000 species of plants and animals. Astonishing!

The ESA helps us implement CITES here at home. And thanks to the ESA, and citizens who believe in global conservation, the United States has been, and continues to be, a world leader in species and ecosystem conservation. 

CoP16 will be no different.

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Last updated: August 31, 2011