Endangered Species Act of 1973

Endangered Species Act of 1973 2016-04-14T21:14:23+00:00

Read the Brief History/Legislative History of the Endangered Species Act here.

Summary of Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Endangered Species Act was passed by Congress in 1973 to protect species of plants and animals that were in danger of disappearing from the face of the earth. The law provides protection from direct human threats such as killing and trapping as well as for the ecosystem on which the species depend. Animals listed as endangered or threatened by the Department of Interior are protected by the law on both public and private lands. Plants protected by the law are primarily protected on public lands, such as National Forests, public parks, military bases, and other lands owned by any national, state, county, or other public agencies. Violations of plant listings on private land can occur only if existing state laws are broken. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is the federal agency with regulatory responsibility for the Endangered Species Act.

The Act prohibits the following activities involving endangered or threatened species:

  • importing or exporting from the United States.
  • taking (includes harassing, harming, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, trapping, killing
  • capturing, or collecting) within the United States and its territorial seas.
  • possessing, selling, delivering, carrying, transporting, or shipping any such ESA species unlawfully taken within the United States or on the high seas.
  • delivering, receiving, carrying, transporting, or shipping in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of a commercial activity.
  • selling or offering for sale in interstate or foreign commerce.

Most of these restrictions also apply to threatened species unless the species qualifies for an exception. The ESA also requires that wildlife be imported or exported through designated ports and that special declarations be filed. If the value of wildlife imported and/or exported is $25,000 per year or more, importers and exporters must be licensed.

Violators of the ESA are subject to fines of up to $100,000 and one year’s imprisonment. Organizations found in violation may be fined up to $200,000. Fish, wildlife, plants, and vehicles and equipment used in violations may be subject to forfeiture. Individuals providing information leading to a civil penalty or criminal conviction may be eligible for cash rewards.

The National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition (NESARC) is spearheading an effort to revise a well-intentioned, but suffocating, law.

The Coosa-Alabama River Improvement recognizes the need for the ESA. We promote its principles of preserving our natural resources, both flora and fauna, but we also understand that the inland waterways of Alabama provide jobs to thousands of people in Alabama. There is room for compromise on the issue of environment versus economic interests and private property owners. Only through constructive dialogue will the opposing factions on this important issue resolve their differences.