The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), passed in 1973, strengthened earlier federal protections for animals that had been nearly wiped out by humans. The act faces opposition from those that believe it both unfairly protects animals that poach livestock and restricts land use.
At a recent hearing titled Modernizing the Endangered Species Act, Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the ESA is not working anymore. Natural Resources Committee Chairman Republican Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah opines that the act has never been used for the rehabilitation of species and instead has been controlling the land, saying, “It has been hijacked.”
Yet Daniel M. Ashe, president and chief executive of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, says, “The Endangered Species Act is the world’s ‘gold standard’ for conservation and protection of animals.”
According to many experts, the world’s flora and fauna are experiencing a global extinction crisis caused by human activity, but we have also learned how to protect species and help them recover. Eight species that would probably have disappeared already were it not for the ESA include the black-footed ferret, humpback whale, bald eagle, American alligator, grizzly bear, Florida manatee, California condor and gray wolf.
This article appears in the June 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.