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The Endangered Species Act: 40 Years at the Forefront of Wildlife Conservation

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Published on Sep 19, 2013

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is by far the most significant piece of endangered species legislation and is considered one of the world's most important conservation laws. The bald eagle now soars the sky in every state across the nation. The black-footed ferret, once teetered on the brink of extinction, but now has hundreds of ferrets bred in captivity and more than 1000 in the wild. And the Tennesse purple coneflower now blooms its beautiful purple petals in its historic range after 32 years of federal protection.

Today the Endangered Species Act protects more than 1400 U.S. species and 600 foreign species. It provides a critical safety net for fish, wildlife and plants and has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species, helped the recovery of many others, and conserved the habitats upon which they depend.

Forty years later, we can look back at the successes we've shared, and look ahead to the work that still needs to be done. Habitat degradation, climate change, invasive species and many other issues threaten our nation's threatened and endangered species. It is under the Endangered Species Act that we protect the animals, plants and habitats that make up the fabric of our nation's natural tapestry. And we can all celebrate that by conserving them, we help ensure the benefits that accrue from them—healthy air, land, and water—on which we depend.

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