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The Enactment of the Endangered Species Act

Shagun Jathun

The Endangered Species Act was passed on December 28th, 1973, under the jurisdiction of President Nixon, and has since become a monumental legislation, preventing invaluable species from reaching the brink of extinction. This act was created when “it became apparent” that human activities were causing the “near-extinction of [species like] the bison”, whose populations once thrived in North America, as well as the complete extinction of species like the passenger pigeon. The complete eradication of such species leads to a lack of biodiversity, which can bring an imbalance to steady ecosystems among many other issues. As a result, the Endangered Species Act is extremely vital in preventing a loss of biodiversity by protecting endangered species that have become threatened by human actions like habitat fragmentation, poaching, and the illegal trade of these sentient beings.

The Endangered Species Act “[allows] organizations to petition to have a species listed as endangered or threatened” and after their approval, “the law requires protection for critical habitat areas and the development and implementation of recovery plans for [the] listed species” (WWF). It even calls on every stage of the government (whether it be federal or local) to take a part in ensuring that proactive measures are being taken to protect these species. Moreover, to ensure their protection, populations “are monitored over time” and “when [a] specific species is “considered [to be] recovered, they are removed from the list”.

This act has been extremely progressive and successful, not only because it has prevented almost all of the species added to its list from extinction, but also because it has resulted in the protection of “over 200,000 acres of crucial habitats” which are essential for conserving biodiversity. Furthermore, it has resulted in “a 90% recovery rate” among “more than 100 species” who were originally part of the list. For example, the “California Condor, Grizzly Bear, Okaloosa Darter, Whooping Crane, and Black-Footed Ferret… [have recovered] from the brink of extinction”. In addition, populations of species such as the Bald Eagle and the Steller Sea Lion have been doing so well that they have been removed from the Endangered Species list.


  1. “The US Endangered Species Act,” WWF.

  2. "Endangered Species Act signed into law,” HISTORY.

  3. “Endangered Species Act Implementation,” U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.


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