URGENT: Four Mexican gray wolves caught in leg traps in New Mexico. Many more leg hold traps, snares and poisons are found across the New Mexico landscape.

Will you chip in right now to help provide the resources we need to fight for these wolves – in the field, in court, and in Washington, D.C.?

© David Hinkel

Protecting Imperiled Species

The Endangered Species Act 101

The Endangered Species Act 101

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the strongest and most important federal law protecting imperiled wildlife and plants. For nearly 40 years, the ESA has helped prevent the extinction of our nation's wildlife treasures, including beloved American icons such as the bald eagle, the Florida manatee and the California condor.

Less than one percent of the more than 2,000 plants and animals protected by the Act worldwide have ever been formally delisted due to extinction – an astonishing success rate. The Endangered Species Act also benefits people by maintaining healthy natural systems that provide us with clean air and water, food, medicines and other products that we all need to live healthy lives. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment and leave behind a legacy of protecting endangered species and the special places they call home.

Threats to the Endangered Species Act

Although a strong majority of Americans still hold the same conservation values that created the ESA decades ago, unrelenting pressure from various commercial industries and ultra-conservative political interests continue to threaten this vital piece of environmental legislation, attempting to override or severely weaken the Act or  slash its funding to a point where it can no longer accomplish its goals. As more species are found to warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act, it is more important than ever that this vital tool for wildlife conservation be kept strong and capable of preventing extinctions and putting imperiled species back on the road to a successful recovery.

What Defenders is Doing for the Endangered Species Act

Defenders of Wildlife works on several fronts to ensure that the ESA can continue to prevent extinctions and promote imperiled species’ recovery. We develop new ways to make the act more effective, advocate to protect and increase federal funding for the ESA, oppose all legislative attacks that would weaken the law, and make sure that those responsible for implementing the Act’s provisions and regulations are held accountable when they fail to enforce the law.

Securing ESA Listings for At-Risk Species

The process to get a species listed under the ESA is complex. It starts with a petition to list – an official, legal request to protect the species under the Act, complete with as much scientific background as possible on the species, its history, and the threats it faces.

When it becomes clear that a species is facing possible extinction, Defenders' legal team and conservation experts work with scientists and partner organizations across the country to craft and submit a strong, well-supported petition to list that species under the ESA. We also collaborate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure they have everything they need to consider the request.


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