Despite their success and overwhelming bipartisan support from the American people, the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act and environmental protections like the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act have come under repeated attacks. Unrelenting pressure from some commercial and political interests continue to threaten these landmark conservation laws, concocting legal and legislative attacks to weaken or override it, or slash its funding to a point where it can no longer function. In today's world, where more species than ever need the protections of the Endangered Species Act, this tool for wildlife conservation must be kept strong enough to continue preventing extinctions and putting imperiled species back on the road to recovery.

Defenders' Impact

Defenders of Wildlife works on several fronts to ensure that the Endangered Species Act and other conservation laws can continue to prevent extinctions and promote imperiled species’ recovery.

We develop new ways to make these statutes more effective in our Center for Conservation Innovation, advocate to protect and increase federal funding, oppose all legislative attacks that would weaken them, and make sure that those responsible for implementing provisions and regulations are held accountable when they fail to enforce the laws.

Defenders educates legislators and their staff about the value of protecting endangered species, helping them understand the importance of supporting endangered species programs and keeping the Endangered Species Act and other laws strong. Our team on Capitol Hill relentlessly advocates to protect and increase federal funding for the ESA and oppose all legislative attacks that would weaken the laws.

Our Conservation Law department works with other conservation organizations, wildlife scientists and experts, and federal agencies to make sure that endangered species receive the full protection they deserve. When a federal agency proposes an action that is likely to jeopardize an endangered species or damage its critical habitat, our legal team goes to court to protect wildlife.

Endangered Species Act

Signed into law by President Nixon in 1973, the Endangered Species Act aspires to prevent extinction, recover imperiled plants and animals, and protect the ecosystems on which they depend.

Migratory Bird Treaty Act

The MBTA regulates not only direct and intentional killing of birds via shooting and trapping, but also “incidental take” such as electrocution from a power line or asphyxiation in an oil pit. 

Marine Mammal Protection Act

The Marine Mammal Protection Act was our first national law mandating an ecosystem approach to wildlife conservation.


2006 - Coal Fired Power Plant - Wyoming - Greg Goebel
Great Falls, MT

Ninth Circuit Decision Throws Out Coal Leasing Challenge

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that a lawsuit from the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and conservation groups that had successfully reinstated the Obama-era

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