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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; it has been amended several times.

A "species" is considered:

There are approximately 2,140 total species listed under the ESA. Of these species, approximately 1,515 are found in part or entirely in the U.S. and its waters; the remainder are foreign species.

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) share responsibility for implementing the ESA. Generally, USFWS manages land and freshwater species, while NMFS manages marine and "anadromous" species. NMFS has jurisdiction over 94 listed species.

How We Implement the ESA

Policies, Guidance, and Regulations

More Information

Updated: December 13, 2013