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Endangered Species Act


Endangered Species Act – In 1973, Congress recognized that species of fish, wildlife, and plants are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people; in order to prevent the extinction of species they enacted the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.

ESA Overview

  • Classification

    Slickspot peppergrass, USFWS

    Classification, or “listing” a species under the ESA involves a rulemaking process that includes public review and comment (see Listing Process FAQs). Species may be classified under the ESA as Threatened or Endangered (see T versus E FAQs ).

    Find endangered species in your State

  • Critical Habitat

    Selkirk Mountain woodland caribou, Steve Forest/USFWS

    When a species is proposed for listing as endangered or threatened we must consider whether there are areas of habitat believed to be essential to the species' conservation. Those areas may be proposed for designation as critical habitat.

  • Interagency Cooperation (Section 7 Consultation)

    McFarlane's four o'clock, USFWS

    When a Federal agency funds, permits, or carries out a proposal that may affect listed species or designated critical habitat, the agency must consult with us to ensure their action does not jeopardize the continued existence of the species or adversely modify critical habitat. Visit our Section 7 Consultation page for additional information and some local samples of biological opinions.

  • Recovery Plans

    Slickspot peppergrass, USFWS

    Recovery is the ultimate goal of the endangered species program - to restore the species to the point where it is a secure, self-sustaining part of its ecosystem and to the point that protections under the ESA are no longer needed. The development of a recovery plan is one of the first steps for species recovery and is a tool to guide the recovery process and measure progress towards recovery.

  • Recovery Permits

    Banbury Springs lanx, USFWS

    We issue recovery permits to allow research that furthers our understanding of listed species for the purposes of assisting in recovery efforts. For information on how to obtain a recovery permit and to get a copy of a permit application, visit our Permit Page.

  • Status Reviews

    Northern Idaho ground squirrel, USFWS

    The ESA requires we conduct a status review of listed species at least once every five years. The review includes an evaluation of new information concerning the species biology and trends, habitat conditions, conservation measures, and threats. On the basis of these reviews, we recommend whether a species should be removed from the list, remain listed, or reclassified to threatened or endangered. Any change recommended requires a separate formal rule-making process, including public review and comment.

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