The Endangered Species Act of 1973
In 1973, the 108th Congress passes the Endangered Species Act which officially set into law the protection of wildlife in the United States. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) finally put into motion the tools necessary for conservationists to begin saving species in the United States that were on the verge of extinction. The saving of endangered and threatened species is a large but special job to complete, but what was the true purpose of the ESA of 1973?
The purposes of this Act are to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved, to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered species and threatened species, and to take such steps as may be appropriate to achieve the purposes of the treaties and conventions set forth in subsection (a) of this section.
This quote was found on the first page of the ESA and seems to be pretty straight forward about what the purpose of the act is, but is this really the case? At first glace this act is only for the conservation and preservation of endangered and threatened species in the United States. However, before endangered and threatened species are even mentioned we see the true aim of protection. The protection of the entire ecosystem is the first thing that is mentioned. This is big news to conservationists. Not only do they get to protect endangered and threatened species but also their entire habitat and whatever else might inhabit that area. An ecosystem can contain many different life forms including plants and animals that are not the exact target species. An ecosystem is an area as a whole with everything in that area being connected. The decrease of one thing will lead to the decrease of another. So, in order to protect the endangered and threatened species n a certain area, the entire ecosystem must be protected.
In the lower forty-eight states of the United States, the Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) or North American Brown Bear is considered a threatened species and is protected under the Endangered Species Act. The Grizzly Bear can have a home range of anywhere between 10 and 600 square miles. So, since the bear has such a large home range 600 square miles of their ecosystem is also going to be protected. In northern states such as Montana and Wyoming, this is not a large problem. Land in these states in prime environment for the Grizzly and the urban development is not a huge issue. The 600 square miles can be adequately protected for the Grizzly to thrive.
The Endangered Species Act as a whole has been a great help to the United States in terms of protecting animals and bringing them back from the brink of extinction. In 2007 , our beloved national bird the bald eagle was taken off of the endangered species list and is thriving throughout the country. This is just one of the many success story that has come from the ESA. The Endangered Species Act continues to save species from extinction and will hopefully continue indefinitely. The Fish and Wildlife Service grants access to the complete ESA document and other great resources about the wildlife in the United States.