About Us

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) implements the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by working with others to conserve the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend, and by developing and maintaining conservation programs for these species to improve their status to the point that protection under the ESA is no longer necessary. This process is called recovery. 

The recovery process begins for a species as soon as it is listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA. Recovering a species can be challenging and time consuming. In some cases, we are undertaking the challenges associated with population declines of species more than 200 years in the making. Achieving recovery for threatened and endangered species requires cooperative conservation efforts and is most successful when communities come together and are committed to solving these challenges and creating extraordinary results.  

We collaborate with federal, state, and local agencies; tribal governments; conservation organizations; institutions of higher education; the business community; landowners; and other concerned citizens.  

Collaborative efforts with our many partners have resulted in saving numerous species, such as the American alligator, Louisiana black bear, Kirtland's warbler, peregrine falcon, Oregon chub, and bald eagle from extinction.​ 

Our History

Interest in conserving species in danger of extinction got national attention in 1966 when Congress passed the Endangered Species Preservation Act. Globally, the issue generated action in 1969, when Congress passed the Endangered Species Conservation Act, which recognized that fish and wildlife and plants know no jurisdictional boundaries and that conservation is a global issue. In an international approach, the Act called for a meeting of countries to plan a strategy to prevent extinctions—an event that took place in 1973, when 80 nations gathered in Washington, D.C., demonstrating the scope of the concern. Months later, on December 28, 1973, President Nixon signed into law the Endangered Species Act.

Policies and Regulations

We have developed a number of national policies and issued internal guidance to promote efficiency and consistency in our implementation of the ESA. Below you will find links to summaries of our major policies related to species recovery.

Policy or RegulationDateDocument
Endangered and Threatened Species Listing and Recovery Priority GuidelinesSeptember 21, 1983; November 15, 1983 - Correction48 FR 43098; 48 FR 51985
Interagency Policy on Recovery Plan Participation and Implementation under the ESAJuly 1, 199459 FR 34272
Policy Regarding Controlled Propagation of Species Listed Under the Endangered Species ActSeptember 20, 200065 FR 56916
Guidance on Recovery Crediting for the Conservation of Threatened and Endangered SpeciesJuly 31, 200873 FR 44761