What is an "Endangered Species"?

An endangered species is an animal or plant that"s considered at risk of extinction. A species can be listed as endangered at the state, federal, and international level. On the federal level, the endangered species các mục is managed under the Endangered Species Act.

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The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted by Congress in 1973. Under the ESA, the federal government has the responsibility khổng lồ protect endangered species (species that are likely to become extinct throughout all or a large portion of their range), threatened species (species that are likely khổng lồ become endangered in the near future), và critical habitat (areas vital khổng lồ the survival of endangered or threatened species).

The Endangered Species Act has lists of protected plant and animal species both nationally & worldwide. When a species is given ESA protection, it is said to lớn be a "listed" species. Many additional species are evaluated for possible protection under the ESA, and they are called “candidate” species.

Why We Protect Them

The Endangered Species Act is very important because it saves our native fish, plants, và other wildlife from going extinct. Once gone, they"re gone forever, và there"s no going back. Losing even a single species can have disastrous impacts on the rest of the ecosystem, because the effects will be felt throughout the food chain. From providing cures to lớn deadly diseases khổng lồ maintaining natural ecosystems và improving overall unique of life, the benefits of preserving threatened & endangered species are invaluable.

How a Species Gets Listed

When the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service is investigating the health of a species, they look at scientific data collected by local, state, & national scientists. In order to be listed as a candidate, a species has to qualify for protected status under the Endangered Species Act. Whether or not a species is listed as endangered or threatened then depends on a number of factors, including the urgency và whether adequate protections exist through other means.

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When deciding whether a species should be added lớn the Endangered Species List, the following criteria are evaluated:

Has a large percentage of the species" vital habitat been degraded or destroyed? bởi current regulations or legislation inadequately protect the species? Are there other man-made factors threatening the long-term survival of the species?

If the answer to one or more of the above questions is yes, then the species can be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Species Protections

Once a species becomes listed as "threatened" or "endangered," it receives special protections by the federal government. Animals are protected from “take” & being traded or sold. A listed plant is protected if on federal property or if federal actions are involved, such as the issuing of a federal permit on private land.

The term "take" is used in the Endangered Species Act lớn include "harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill trap, capture, or collect, or lớn attempt to lớn engage in any such conduct." The law also protects against interfering in vital breeding & behavioral activities or degrading critical habitat.


The primary goal of the Endangered Species Act is lớn make species" populations healthy & vital so they can be delisted from the Endangered Species Act. Under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service oversees the listing and protection of all terrestrial animals and plants as well as freshwater fish. NOAA"s National Marine Fisheries Service oversees marine fish and wildlife. The two organizations actively invest time và resources lớn help bring endangered or threatened species back from the brink of extinction.

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Endangered Species Day

Endangered Species Day, which falls on the third Friday in May each year, is a day lớn celebrate endangered species success stories and learn about species still in danger. Learn what the National Wildlife Federation is doing lớn protect endangered species and how to support Endangered Species Day.