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As the principal federal partner responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act (ESA), we take the lead in recovering and conserving our Nation's imperiled species by fostering partnerships, employing scientific excellence, and developing a workforce of conservation leaders.
As we work in partnership with others, our two major goals are to:
1) Protect endangered and threatened species, and then pursue their recovery; and
2) Conserve candidate species and species-at-risk so that listing under the ESA is not necessary.
These goals are achieved through the following activities:
Working in partnership with public and private landowners, the Candidate Conservation Program assesses species and develops and facilitates the use of voluntary conservation tools for collaborative conservation of candidate and other species-at-risk and their habitats, so that these species do not need the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
The ESA directs all Federal agencies to use their existing authorities to conserve threatened and endangered species and, in consultation with the Service, to ensure that their actions do not jeopardize listed species or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. This applies to management of Federal lands as well as other Federal actions that may affect listed species, such as Federal approval of private activities through the issuance of Federal permits, licenses, or other actions.
Grants for states and territories, offered through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, fund participation in a wide array of voluntary conservation projects for candidate, proposed and listed species. These funds may in turn be awarded to private landowners and groups for conservation projects.
Habitat Conservation Plans
To obtain a permit for conducting activities that might incidentally harm endangered or threatened wildlife, private landowners, corporations, State or local governments, Tribes or other non-Federal landowners need to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), designed to offset any harmful effects the proposed activity might have on the species. The Service assists applicants throughout the HCP process, allowing development to proceed consistent with conserving listed species.
While the Endangered Species Program deals primarily with species found in the U.S. and our territories, and the International Affairs Program deals primarily with foreign endangered species, these species occasionally overlap. Both programs work closely with the governments of Canada and Mexico to cooperatively conserve species at risk across North America.
Listing and Critical Habitat
Through the Listing Program, the Service determines whether to add a species to the Federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants. Listing affords a species the full range of protections available under the ESA, including prohibitions on killing, harming or otherwise "taking" a species. In some instances, listing can be avoided by the development of Candidate Conservation Agreements which may remove threats facing the candidate species.
The goal of the Endangered Species Act is the recovery of listed species to levels where protection under the Act is no longer necessary. Towards that goal, we develop and implement recovery plans that provide detailed site-specific management actions for private, Federal, and State cooperation in conserving listed species and their ecosystems.
Working With Tribes
Actions taken under authority of the ESA may affect Indian lands, tribal trust resources, or the exercise of American Indian tribal rights. Accordingly, the Service carries out its responsibilities in a manner that harmonizes the Federal trust responsibility to tribes, tribal sovereignty, and our mission, and strives to ensure that Indian tribes do not bear a disproportionate burden for the conservation of listed species, so as to avoid or minimize the potential for conflict and confrontation.
What We Do
- Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs)
- Safe Harbor Agreements
- Candidate Conservation Agreements
- Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances
- Recovery Credits and Tax Deductions
- Conservation Banking
- Conservation Plans Database
- Information, Planning and Conservation System (IPaC)
- Recovery Online Activity Reporting System (ROAR)
- News Stories
- Featured Species
- Recovery Success Stories
- Endangered Species Bulletin
- Partnership Stories