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U.S. Endangered Species Act 1973


Protects species identified as endangered or threatened with extinction ... General Statistics for Endangered Species. How many species in the United States ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: U.S. Endangered Species Act 1973

U.S. Endangered Species Act(1973)
  • Protects species identified as endangered or
    threatened with extinction
  • Attempts to protect the habitat on which they
  • Administered primarily by the Fish and Wildlife
    Service (U.S. Department of the Interior)
  • The National Marine Fisheries Service (U.S.
    Department of Commerce) administers the ESA for
    certain marine species

General Statistics for Endangered Species
  • How many species in the United States are listed
    as threatened or endangered?
  • 607 U.S. animal species are listed
  • 744 U.S. plant species are listed.
  • How many species in the United States are
    proposed for listing as threatened or endangered?
  • 4 U.S. animal species are currently proposed for
  • 0 U.S. plant species are currently proposed for

General Statistics for Endangered Species
  • How many listed species have designated critical
  • 493 U.S. species have designated critical habitat
  • How many candidate species are there?
  • 138 animal species are candidates for listing
  • 140 plant species are candidates for listing
  • How many habitat conservation plans (HCPs) have
    been approved?
  • 883 habitat conservation plans have been approved
    (727 current, 156 expired)
  • How many listed species have approved recovery
  • 1116 species have approved recovery plans

ESA History Evolution
  • 1966 Endangered Species Preservation Act
  • Listed only native animal species as endangered
    and provided limited means for the protection of
    listed species
  • The Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and
    Defense were to seek to protect listed species
    and to preserve the habitats of such species
  • Land acquisition for protection of endangered
    species was also authorized

ESA History Evolution
  • 1969 Endangered Species Conservation Act
  • Provided additional protection to species in
    danger of "worldwide extinction"
  • Prohibited the importation and sale of such
    species within the U.S.
  • Called for an international ministerial meeting
    to adopt a convention on the conservation of
    endangered species.
  • A 1973 conference in Washington led to the
    signing of the Convention on International Trade
    in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
    (CITES), which restricted international commerce
    in plant and animal species believed to be
    actually or potentially harmed by trade.

How the ESA Works
  • Species of plants and animals (both vertebrate
    and invertebrate) are listed as either
    endangered or threatened according to
    assessments of the risk of their extinction
  • Powerful legal tools are available to aid the
    recovery of the species and to protect its habitat

ESA Listing
  • As of September 25, 2006, a total of 1,879
    species of animals and plants had been listed as
    either endangered or threatened
  • 1,311 of these occur in the United States and its
  • Of the U.S. species, 1,070 were covered by
    recovery plans

What is an endangered species?
  • An endangered species is defined as any species
    which is in danger of extinction throughout all
    or a significant portion of its range....

What is a threatened species?
  • A threatened species is defined as any species
    which is likely to become an endangered species
    within the foreseeable future throughout all or a
    significant portion of its range.

Which Animals? Plants? Organisms?
  • The protection of the ESA extends to all species
    and subspecies of animals, not just birds and
  • More limited protection is available for plant
    species under the ESA
  • There is currently no protection afforded under
    the ESA for organisms (e.g., Eubacteria, Archaea,
    viruses) considered neither animal nor plant.

Basis for Listings
  • The ESA defines species as a species, a
    subspecies, or, for vertebrates only a
  • This allows some flexibility as to how to provide
    different levels of protection to less than a
    whole species
  • Solely on the basis of the best scientific and
    commercial data available
  • Commercial data refers to trade data, and is
    not meant to make economic considerations a part
    of the listing decision

  • Observers have compared the decision of whether
    to list a species to diagnosing whether a patient
    has cancer
  • The diagnosis should be a strictly scientific
    decision, but other factors can be considered in
    deciding how to treat the cancer

ESA Surrogacy
  • The ESA is often a surrogate in quarrels whose
    primary focus is the allocation of scarce or
    diminishing lands or resources
  • There can be economic interests on the various
    sides of some vanishing species issues
  • Other laws often lack the strict substantive
    provisions that Congress included in the ESA
  • Examples the Tellico Dam and the snail darter
    Northwest timber harvest and the spotted owl
    coal-methane extraction in northern states and
    the sage grouse

Has ESA Been Effective?
  • The answer to this question depends very much on
    the choice of measurement
  • 17 species have been delisted due to recovery
  • 9 species have become extinct since their listing
  • 16 have been delisted due to improved data

How Many Species Have Stabilized or Increased
their Populations?
  • Most species are listed only once they are very
  • Median population of 407 animals for endangered
  • 41 of listed species have improved or stabilized
    their population levels
  • Other species (e.g., red wolves and California
    condors) might not exist at all without ESA
    protection, even though the species are still rare

Leading Causes of Extinction
  • Until recent decades, the focus of the extinction
    debate was on losses due to over-exploitation,
    generally through hunting, trapping, or fishing
  • Passenger pigeons, tigers, wolves
  • During the 20th century, a shift of focus and
    probably of fact occurred The vast majority of
    species, including those for which direct taking
    was probably an early factor in their decline,
    are generally also at risk due to habitat loss
  • tall-grass prairie, fresh and salt water
    wetlands, old growth forests of most types,
    free-flowing rivers, coral reefs, undisturbed
    sandy beaches

Introduction of Non-Native, Invasive Species
  • Another high-ranking factor in the demise of many
  • The gradual homogenization of the worlds flora
    and fauna has led to a demise of many species
  • Disease vectors or parasites
  • Avian malaria in Hawaii, or Asian long-horned
    beetles in North America
  • Predators
  • Brown tree snakes in Guam and Hawaii
  • Competitors
  • Barred owls in the Pacific Northwest

Non-Native Species
  • The introduction of non-native species is now the
    second greatest threat to native species.
  • Habitat loss is the most common reason species
    are endangered and threatened.
  • http//www.fws.gov/endangered/kids/html/303.html

Continuing Impact of DDT
  • The decline of bird species such as the brown
    pelican alerted us to the harmful effects of
  • Birds were poisoned by DDT when they ate fish
    from poisoned waterways. This caused pelicans to
    lay thin shelled eggs that often broke before the
    chick hatched.
  • In 1972, the Environmental Protection Agency
    banned the use of DDT.
  • However, DDT is still legal in other countries,
    and many migratory bird are still exposed to the
    harmful effects of DDT and other pesticides when
    outside the U.S.

Is Extinction Normal?
  • Geological evidence shows that the vast majority
    of species that have ever lived on Earth are now
  • If there are 20 million species now, background
    levels would be about 2 to 20 species extinctions
    per year
  • Common estimates of current extinction rates
    range from 100 to 10,000 times such background

Take or Taking
  • The term take under the ESA means to harass,
    harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap,
    capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in
    any such conduct
  • Taking is prohibited
  • Controversy over the extent to which the
    prohibition on taking may include habitat
  • A 1995 Supreme Court decision (Sweet Home) held
    that the inclusion of significant habitat
    modification was a reasonable interpretation of
    the term harm

Penalties Prohibitions
  • Threatened or Endangered
  • The prohibitions and penalties of the ESA apply
    primarily to those species listed as endangered
  • The Secretary may promulgate special regulations
    to address the plight of species listed as
  • Protections and recovery measures for a
    particular threatened species can be tailored to
    particular situations, as was done, for example,
    with respect to the northern spotted owl
  • Another regulation also affords threatened
    species for which a special rule has not been
    promulgated the same protections as endangered

  • Those who knowingly break the law through acts of
    importing or exporting, taking, possessing,
    selling, delivering, carrying, transporting, or
    shippingessentially trafficking endangered
    species without permission from the Secretary
  • Any act of knowingly taking (which includes
    harming, wounding, or killing) an endangered
    species is also subject to the same penalty
  • Maximum fine of up to 50,000, or imprisonment
    for one year, or both
  • Civil penalties of up to 25,000 per violation
  • As your violation history accumulates, you are
    subject to larger fines and penalties

Excusal from Penalties
  • No penalty may be imposed if it can be shown by a
    preponderance of the evidence that the defendant
    committed an act based on a good faith belief
    that he was acting to protect himself or herself
    or any other individual from bodily harm from any
    endangered species or threatened species.
  • The law also eliminates criminal penalties for
    accidentally killing listed species during
    farming and ranching activities.

  • Species may be listed on the initiative of the
    appropriate Secretary or by petition from an
    individual, group, or state agency
  • The Secretary must decide whether to list the
    species based only on the best available
    scientific and commercial information, after an
    extensive series of procedural steps to ensure
    public participation and the collection of
    relevant information.
  • The Secretary is expressly forbidden to consider
    the economic effects that listing may have on the
    area where the species occurs
  • But economic considerations may be considered in
    later stages

Delisting and Downlisting
  • The same as the processes for listing
  • The determination to delist, downlist, or uplist
    a species must be made solely on the basis of
    the best scientific and commercial data
  • Without reference to possible economic or other

Critical Habitat
  • The Secretary must also designate critical
  • Either where the species is found or, if it is
    not found there, where there are features
    essential to its conservation
  • Supposed to be determined within one year of the
    listing, but
  • As of September 25, 2006, critical habitat had
    been designated for 476 listed species

Designating Critical Habitat
  • Economic factors expressly are a part of
    designating critical habitat for species
  • The Secretary to the maximum extent prudent and
    determinable is to designate the critical
    habitat of the species
  • FWS has designated critical habitat for 162 of
    the 1,262 listed domestic species
  • FWS has a longstanding disaffection for this
    provision of the law, viewing its conservation
    benefit to be low compared to its cost
  • FWS is sued frequently for its failure to
    designate critical habitat and consistently loses
    such suits

Public Misunderstandings re Critical Habitat v.
  • Avoiding adverse modification of critical habitat
    is an express obligation only for federal
    agencies and actions, BUT it is frequently
    misunderstood by the public as the major
    restriction on a private landowners authority to
    manage land.
  • The bulk of any restrictions on use of private
    land come primarily from the ESAs prohibition on
    taking of listed species
  • Only occasionally are they due to any additional
    strictures resulting from designated critical

Is Private Land Affected If Designed to be
Critical Habit?
  • Private land is only affected by critical habitat
    designation if some federal action (e.g.,
    license, loan, permit) is involved
  • Federal agencies must avoid destruction or
    adverse modification of critical habitat, either
    through their direct action or activities that
    they approve or fund

Recovery Plans
  • The appropriate Secretary must develop recovery
    plans for the conservation and survival of listed
  • Recovery plans are not binding on federal
    agencies or others
  • Recovery plans had been completed for 1,070 U.S.
    species (as of September 25, 2006)

  • If federal actions or actions of non-federal
    parties that require a federal approval, permit,
    or funding might affect a listed species, the
    federal action agencies must complete a
    biological assessment.
  • Action includes any activity authorized,
    funded, or carried out by a federal agency,
    including permits and licenses

Actions Requiring ES Protection
  • If the appropriate Secretary finds that an action
    would jeopardize a species or adversely modify
    critical habitat, the Secretary must suggest
    reasonable and prudent alternatives that would
    avoid harm to the species.
  • If no reasonable and prudent alternatives can be
    devised to avoid the jeopardy, the agency has
    three choices
  • (1) choose not to proceed with the action, or
  • (2) proceed with the action at the risk of
    penalties, or
  • (3) apply for a formal exemption for the action

  • An exemption allows the action to go forward
    without penalties
  • A high-level Endangered Species Committee of six
    specified federal officials and a representative
    of each affected state (commonly called the God
    Squad) decides whether to allow the action to
    proceed despite future harm to a species
  • At least five votes are required to pass an
  • The Committee must grant an exemption if the
    Secretary of Defense determines that an exemption
    is necessary for national security
  • The President may determine whether to exempt a
    project for the repair or replacement of
    facilities in declared disaster areas

Few Exemptions
  • There have only been six instances to date in
    which the exemption process was initiated.
  • Of these six, one was granted, one was partially
    granted, one was denied, and three were dropped.
  • Graylocks Dam and migrating whooping cranes
    (granted exemption)
  • Tellico Dam and the snail darter (denied
  • BLM timber sales in Oregon and the northern
    spotted owl (granted exemption for 13 of the

Allowance for an Incidental Take
  • For actions without a federal nexus, such as a
    loan or permit, the Secretary may issue permits
    to allow incidental take of species for
    otherwise lawful actions.
  • The applicant for an incidental take permit must
    submit a habitat conservation plan (HCP) that
    shows the likely impact, the steps to minimize
    and mitigate the impact, the funding for the
    mitigation, the alternatives that were considered
    and rejected, and any other measures that the
    Secretary may require.

Habitat Conservation Plans
  • n 1982, Congress amended the ESA to enhance the
    permitting provisions of the act to provide
    landowners with incentives to participate in
    endangered species conservation.
  • By preparing "conservation plans" that meet
    statutory criteria, private landowners can obtain
    "incidental take permits" that allow otherwise
    prohibited impacts to endangered, threatened and
    other species covered in the permitting

  • A person may apply for an HCP (Habitat
    Conservation Plans) if they know they want to
    develop an area that already has endangered
    species present.
  • They are required to apply through the U.S. Fish
    and Wildlife Service and are required to minimize
    and fully mitigate the impacts to the species

  • Each conservation plan must specify
  • the impacts to species that will occur
  • the steps taken to minimize and mitigate the
    incidental take
  • the funding available
  • alternative actions that were considered but not
  • and other necessary and appropriate measures.

  • After review of a proposed conservation plan, FWS
    or NOAA Fisheries may issue an incidental take
    permit upon making the statutorily required
    "findings," including a determination that the
    incidental taking "will not appreciably reduce
    the likelihood of the survival and recovery of
    the species in the wild."

No Surprises Assurances
  • Assurances given to private landowners that if
    "unforeseen circumstances" arise, FWS or NOAA
    Fisheries will not require the commitment of
    land, water or financial compensation or
    additional restrictions on the use of land,
    water, or other natural resources beyond the
    levels otherwise agreed to in the conservation
    plan, without the consent of the private

Citizen Suits and the ESA
  • The citizen suit provisions have been a driving
    force in the ESAs history, and often have been
    used to force reluctant agencies to provide for
    species conservation that might otherwise have
    been neglected.

Effectiveness of the ESA
  • 41 species have been delisted
  • sixteen due to recovery
  • nine due to extinction (seven of which were
    extinct prior to being listed)
  • nine due to changes in taxonomic classification
  • five due to discovery of new populations
  • one due to an error in the listing rule
  • one due to an amendment to the Endangered Species
    Act specifically requiring the species delisting

Delisting Report http//ecos.fws.gov/tess_public
  • Twenty-three other species have been downlisted
    from "endangered" to "threatened" status.
  • Few species have become extinct while listed
    under the Endangered Species Act
  • 93 of listed species have had their population
    sizes increase or remain stable since being
    listed as threatened or endangered.

Listed Species Which Increased In Population Size
  • Bald Eagle (increased from 417 to 9,250 pairs
    between 1963 and 2006)
  • Whooping Crane (increased from 54 to 436 birds
    between 1967 and 2003)
  • Peregrine Falcon (increased from 324 to 1,700
    pairs between 1975 and 2000)
  • Gray Wolf (populations increased dramatically in
    the Northern Rockies, Southwest, and Great Lakes)
  • Gray Whale (increased from 13,095 to 26,635
    whales between 1968 and 1998)
  • Grizzly bear (increased from about 271 to over
    580 bears in the Yellowstone area between 1975
    and 2005).
  • Californias Southern Sea Otter (increased from
    1,789 in 1976 to 2,735 in 2005)
  • San Clemente Indian Paintbrush (increased from
    500 plants in 1979 to more than 3,500 in 1997)
  • Florida's Red Wolf (increased from 17 in 1980 to
    257 in 2003)
  • Florida's Key Deer (increased from 200 in 1971 to
    750 in 2001)
  • Hawaiian Goose (increased from 400 birds in 1980
    to 1,275 in 2003)
  • Virginia Big-Eared Bat (increased from 3,500 in
    1979 to 18,442 in 2004)

Updates on the ESA
  • The Bald Eagle was removed from the federal list
    of threatened and endangered species on June
    28th, 2007.
  • The eagles health will be monitored closely for
    the next five years, and it can be restored to
    the list of threatened species if necessary.
  • It will also continue to enjoy the protections
    provided by an older law, The Bald and Golden
    Eagle Protection Act.
  • There were 417 breeding pairs in the continental
    United States in 1967, after a long decline
    blamed variously on illegal hunting, habitat
    destruction and the pesticide DDT, which was
    banned in 1972. Forty years later, according to
    government figures, that number has grown to
    nearly 10,000.

  • The Grizzly bear (Yellowstone, "Northern
    Grizzly") was removed March 22nd, 2007.

  • Florida manatee recommended upgrading of ESA
    status from endangered to threatened (April 10,
  • This switch could mean changes in boating and
    development restrictions that were established to
    protect manatees.
  • In 2007 the manatee census recorded 2,812 in
    Florida water. In 1991, the surveys first year,
    1,267 manatees were counted.

  • Congressional Research Report RL31654, The
    Endangered Species Act A Primer (updated
    September 27, 2006)
  • U.S. Fish Wildlife Service, History and
    Evolution of the Endangered Species Act of 1973
    (updated October, 1996)
  • USFWS Summary of Listed Species
  • Marine and Anadromous ESA Species

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