Endangered Species Act

In the 30 years since the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed, it has improved the conditions of many plants and animal species. Many species were brought back from the brink of extinction. The United States Congress and the Ministry of Interior were very much convinced that the species biodiversity is the wealth of the nation and survival of mankind depended on an ecological balance.

Protecting the species is very important because humans depend on plant and animal species a lot. Without their existence, human survival is in jeopardy. Humans depend on plants and animals for food, medicines, clothing etc. The ESA was put in place to maintain the biodiversity and help species that are endangered. Thanks to ESA, many survived the pressures forced upon by humans.

As all laws have certain amount of drawbacks, so does ESA. In the 30 years since the law was enacted, countless acres of habitat have been destroyed and some species have declined in numbers or even gone extinct. What we have currently is an Act where many species that desperately need protection have not yet been added to the endangered species list.

Various studies by biologists, research scientists reveal that the ESA failed in many ways. The Amendments that have been made were not efficient enough to protect the species and their habitats.

From the 1600s, private land ownership was a simple fact of life in North America and was therefore perceived as a basic human right. There is no doubt that the ESA is challenging the traditional sanctity of private property. The fundamental threat to endangered species on private land is not bad people but bad incentives. The ESA not only makes no attempt to correct this problem, it makes it worse.

Various programs were developed and put in place by the Fish and Wild life Services. Programs like Single-species management, Multiple-species management, Recovery plans, Habitat conservation plans etc helped certain species but not to the full extent. Most of the listed species do not have a critical habitat designated. Loss of habitat is one major concern that ESA fails to improvise. Studies reveal that in many instances, the ESA is biased and favoring animals over plants. The Fish and Wildlife Services will need to update its biological, ecological, and risk management skills.

Most states need to strengthen their protection efforts so that state acts do more than document the loss of species through the listing process. A glaring hole in protection at the state level is the lack of a citizen suit provision. Enforcement is left to the states, which tend to have insufficient personnel and funding to bring enforcement actions.

Although Habitat Control Plans and other ESA-related conservation plans have tremendous potential, investigations reveal that in many cases they are being approved without adequate scientific information or public input. Provisions in the plans for long-term biological monitoring, if they exist at all, are weak. In many cases, the federal government is putting species on Noah’s Ark with a blind captain and no way to repair the vessel when holes appear. Adequate biological monitoring, essential to determine whether plans are working as intended, is commonly lacking. Most plans are also missing adaptive management, including plan modifications based on new scientific information.

The Endangered Species Act is one of the best laws put into action by a nation towards protecting species and their habitat. Although it has its drawbacks, it has to attempt to resolve many issues and conflicts for a better approach and environmentally sound implementation.

All species are equal and equal in their rights to exist.


The Endangered Species Act – History, Conservation Biology and Public Policy by Brian Czech and Paul R. Krausman, 2001

Fate of the Wild – The Endangered Species Act and the Future of Biodiversity by Bonnie B. Burgess, 2001

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