Skip Navigation

Endangered Species Act


n 1972, President Nixon declared that conservation efforts in the United States aimed toward preventing the extinction of species were inadequate and called on the 93rd Congress to develop comprehensive endangered species legislation. Congress responded, and on December 28th, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 was signed into law.

When Congress passed the (ESA) in 1973, it recognized that our rich natural heritage is of “esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people.” It further expressed concern that many of our nation’s native plants and animals were in danger of becoming extinct.

For all the details, download the ESA fact sheet

  • What is the Endangered Species Act?

    The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. It is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The FWS has primary responsibility for terrestrial and freshwater organisms, while the responsibilities of NMFS are mainly marine wildlife such as whales and anadromons fish such as salmon.

    Under the ESA, species may be listed as either endangered or threatened. “Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. “Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. All species of plants and animals, except pest insects, are eligible for listing as endangered or threatened. For the purposes of the ESA, Congress defined species to include subspecies, varieties, and, for vertebrates, distinct population segments.

    View and learn more about each section of the Act.

    Learn the history of the Act.

    Access the full library of documents related to the Endangered Species Act.


  • Build a Species List

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides species lists for actions authorized, funded or carried out by federal agencies. The species list fulfills the requirement, under section 7(c) of the Endangered Species Act, to provide a list of threatened and endangered species upon request for federal actions and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance.

    Get a species list

    IPaC is a project planning tool which streamlines the FWS environmental review process.

    Go to IPaC website

    ECOS serves a variety of reports related to FWS Threatened and Endangered Species. 

    Go to ECOS website

  • Apply for a Permit

    The U.S. Fish & Wildlife has set up a series of permits that help to balance the needs of people and wildlife and minimize the impact of certain activities.

    Find a permit

Return to main navigation