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Endangered Species Act (ESA)

"Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed."
-President Nixon, upon signing the Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) was signed on December 28, 1973, and provides for the conservation of species that are endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of their range, and the conservation of the ecosystems on which they depend. The ESA replaced the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969. Congress has amended the ESA several times.


Approximately 2,300 species are listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA. Of these species, about 675 are foreign species, found only in areas outside of the U.S. and our waters.

We have jurisdiction over 161 endangered and threatened marine species, including 65 foreign species. We work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to manage ESA-listed species. Generally, we manage marine species, while USFWS manages land and freshwater species.

A "species" is considered:

How We Implement the ESA

Policies, Guidance, and Regulations

More Information

Updated: February 11, 2016