The Endangered Species Actís 40th Anniversary
When President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) into law on December 28, 1973, he wrote in his signing statement:
"Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation
than the rich array of animal life with which our country has
been blessed. It is a many-faceted treasure, of value to scholars,
At the time, the environmental movement was incredibly
active, persuading the President to support and Congress to
pass numerous laws such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air
Congress recognized that “Various species of fish, wildlife, and
plants in the United States have been rendered extinct as a
consequence of economic growth and development untempered
Intent on fulfilling Nixon’s mandate, the authors of the ESA
made an unmistakably strong statement on national species
protection policy. The ESA provided for the protection of
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is by far the most
significant piece of endangered species legislation and is
considered one of the world’s most important conservation laws.
Today the Endangered Species Act protects more than 1400 domestic species and 600 foreign species.
During the last 40 years, the Endangered Species Act has been
credited with saving 99 percent of those species listed from
extinction. Bald eagles, gray wolves, American alligators and
The ESA is a critical safety net for fish, wildlife and plants and
has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species, as
well as promoting the recovery of many others, and conserving
Today, hundreds of species are stable or improving thanks to management actions of federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations and private citizens. Our partners share a commitment to build on our accomplishments and expand innovative initiatives to further this mission in the future.
For more information on the ESA’s 40th Anniversary, please visit <www.fws.gov/endangered/ESA40/index.html>.