December 28 is the 45th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. It was signed into law in 1973 by President Nixon and is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Endangered Species Act covers more than just animals. From the “Digest of Federal Resources Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service”:
Through federal action and by encouraging the establishment of state programs, the 1973 Endangered Species Act provided for the conservation of ecosystems upon which threatened and endangered species of fish, wildlife, and plants depend. The Act:
- authorizes the determination and listing of species as endangered and threatened;
- prohibits unauthorized taking, possession, sale, and transport of endangered species;
- provides authority to acquire land for the conservation of listed species, using land and water conservation funds;
- authorizes establishment of cooperative agreements and grants-in-aid to States that establish and maintain active and adequate programs for endangered and threatened wildlife and plants;
- authorizes the assessment of civil and criminal penalties for violating the Act or regulations; and
- authorizes the payment of rewards to anyone furnishing information leading to arrest and conviction for any violation of the Act or any regulation issued thereunder.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the act along with the National Marine Fisheries Service, a 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 — including subspecies, varieties and, for vertebrates, distinct population segments — are eligible for listing, except pest insects.
So what animals are on the endangered species list? You can find this information on the ECOS Environmental Conservation Online System. You can find information listed by groups or by species. You can also find out what species have been delisted; for example, the Lesser long-nosed bat has recovered and was delisted on May 15, 2018. Recover means that the species no longer needs protection. Some of the other animals that have been brought back from extension are the California condor, grizzly bear, Okaloosa darter, whooping crane, and black-footed ferret.
There is a lot more information on endangered species and what landowners can do to help. Check out the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website to learn what you can do to help those who are endangered or threatened. There are organizations such as WWF (World Wildlife Fund) that you can find out how you can help or donate or adopt.