Endangered Species Act Regulations and Policies

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) share responsibility for administration of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We have issued internal guidance and national policies to promote efficiency and nationwide consistency in implementing the ESA to conserve and recover listed species of plants and animals native to the United States and its territories.

Below you will find links to summaries of our major policies, sorted by the associated section of the ESA.

Listing and Classification Policies

Regulations for Designating Critical Habitat (85 FR 82376, December 18, 2020)

Regulations for Listing Endangered and Threatened Species and Designating Critical Habitat (85 FR 81411, December 16, 2020)

Regulations for Listing Species and Designating Critical Habitat (84 FR 45020, August 27, 2019)

Regulations for Prohibitions to Threatened Wildlife and Plants (84 FR 44753, August 27, 2019)

Revisions to the Regulations for Petitions (81 FR 66462, September 27, 2016)

Methodology for Prioritizing Status Reviews and Accompanying 12-Month Findings on Petitions for Listing Under the ESA (81 FR 49248, July 27, 2016)

Policy Regarding Implementation of Section 4(b)(2) of the ESA (81 FR 7226, February 11, 2016)

Implementing Changes to the Regulations for Designating Critical Habitat (81 FR 7414, February 11, 2016)

Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase "Significant Portion of Its Range" in the ESA's Definitions of "Endangered Species" and "Threatened Species" (79 FR 37577, July 1, 2014)

Final Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts When Making Listing Decisions (68 FR 15100, March 28, 2003)

Interagency Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments Under the ESA (61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996)

Interagency Policy on Information Standards under the ESA (59 FR 34271, July 1, 1994)

Endangered and Threatened Species Listing and Recovery Priority Guidelines (48 FR 43098, September 21, 1983 & 48 FR 51985, November 15, 1983 - Correction)

Tribal Policies

Limitation on Section 9 Protections Applicable to Salmon Listed as Threatened under the ESA, for Actions under Tribal Resource Management Plans (Tribal Plans) (65 FR 108, January 3, 2000)

Secretarial Order #3206: American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act (June 5, 1997)

Expenditure Reports

The ESA (Section 18) requires the Service to submit to Congress (through the Secretary of the Interior) an annual report of a cost analysis of expenditures that were made for the conservation of threatened and endangered species. The reports include what the federal government and state governments spent during the preceding federal fiscal year. Congress uses the reports to compare how the money is distributed across the species. They are not used to determine appropriations nor do they show how much was appropriated for each species. The reports are available to the public, and the information is often used by environmental organizations to assist with conservation and by the media.

To gather the information, the Director (through the Ecological Services Program) sends out a request for data each year to all federal agencies that may have a connection with a federally listed species and, therefore, a need to spend money to uphold the ESA. The same request is also sent to the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which gathers the data from the individual states and territories. The Ecological Services Program then compiles the data and prepares the annual "Report to Congress on Federal and State Endangered and Threatened Species Expenditures."

The reports are available to the public, and the information is used by the media, environmental organizations, and other interested parties.

Access expenditure reports


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We provide national leadership in the recovery and conservation of our nation's imperiled plant and animal species, working with experts in the scientific community to identify species on the verge of extinction and to build the road to recovery to bring them back. We work with a range of public...
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The Ecological Services Program works to restore and protect healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants and the environments upon which they depend. Using the best available science, we work with federal, state, Tribal, local, and non-profit stakeholders, as well as private land owners, to...