Endangered Species Act - American business
The Endangered Species Act, passed by Congress in 1973, provides for the protection and conservation of endangered species and their habitats. The act refers to all species of plants and animals with the exception of pest insects. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in the DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in the Department of Commerce administer the act and are responsible for identifying and listing “endangered” and “threatened” species. The act defines “endangered species” as “any species which is in significant danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” A “threatened species” is “any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” Before a species is listed, its status is evaluated by biologists, scientists, and government agency officials using set criteria. Factors considered when determining species status are: habitat instability, disease or predation, overutilization, inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, and “other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.” The Endangered Species Act requires all proposed and officially listed species to be published in the Federal Register. Once listed officially, conservation programs are designed for the species’ ultimate recovery. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 builds upon two previous species-protection acts: the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 and the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969. Although these acts were important because they established endangered-species listings, they did little to protect the listed species. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 provides enforceable rules for endangered- species protection. All federal agencies are required to participate in the conservation of listed species and are prohibited from taking any action that could harm listed species or their habitats. Additionally, under the 1973 act, the importing or EXPORTING
of endangered species is illegal. One widely publicized controversy involving the Act erupted in 1990 between conservationists and the timber industry when the northern spotted owl of the Pacific Northwest forests was listed as a “threatened” subspecies. (The northern spotted owl is a subspecies of the spotted owl.) Because the owl’s “critical habitat,” the old-growth federal forestland in the Pacific Northwest, is protected under the provisions of the act, the U.S. government proposed limits on the harvesting of timber in the area. The timber industry protested the limits, fearing the loss of jobs. Conservationists proposed that not enough of the forestland was being protected from logging. As of 2002, the northern spotted owl has not been removed from the “threatened” species list and the controversy between forest workers and conservationists continues.