U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Ecological Services

Southeast Region

What is Section 7. Consultation?

Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (Act) requires all Federal agencies to use their existing authorities to conserve threatened and endangered species and, through consultation with the Service, ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or adversely modify critical habitat.

Section 7 applies to any Federal action that may affect listed species or designated critical habitat. Private individuals are affected by section 7 only when their action requires a Federal permit or funding.

What is the role of the Service?

The role of the Service in section 7 consultation is to help the action agency be in compliance with the Act. The Service cannot force an action agency into formal consultation.

Who is the Action Agency?

The Action Agency is the Federal agency which authorizes, funds, or carries out an action.

How do I know if I need section 7 consultation or a section 10 permit?


Type of Take


Conservation related or purposeful


sec 7

sec 10(a)(1)(A)


sec 10(a)(1)(B)

sec 10(a)(1)(A)


How does the Consultation process work?

Informal Consultation

The consultation process includes coordination between the applicant, the action agency, and the Service. When a Federal agency carries out, funds, or authorizes a project, it will request informal consultation with the Service in the early stages of project planning.

If the Federal agency, after discussions with the Service, determines that the proposed action is not likely to affect any listed species in the action area, and the Service concurs, the informal consultation is complete and the proposed project moves ahead.

If it appears that the Federal agency’s action may affect a listed species, that agency may then prepare a biological assessment to assist in its determination of the project’s effect on a species.

Informal Consultation Step-by-Step

State Species List by County

Formal Consultation

When a Federal agency determines, through a biological assessment or other review, that its action is “likely to adversely affect” a listed species, the agency submits to the Service a request for formal consultation. During formal consultation, the Service and the agency share information about the proposed project and the species likely to be affected. Formal consultation may last up to 90 days, after which the Service will issue a biological opinion on whether the proposed activity will jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species. The Service has 45 days after completion of formal consultation to write the opinion.

In making a determination on whether an action will result in jeopardy, the Service begins by looking at the current status of the species, or “baseline.” Added to the baseline are the various effects – direct, indirect, interrelated, and interdependent – of the proposed Federal action. The Service also examines the cumulative effects of other non-Federal actions that may occur in the action area, including state, tribal, local, or private activities that are reasonable certain to occur in the project area.

What is Jeopardy?

Under the Act, jeopardy occurs when an action is reasonably expected, directly or indirectly, to diminish a species’ numbers, reproduction, or distribution so that the likelihood of survival and recovery in the wild is appreciably reduced.

Formal Consultation

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