It’s Endangered Species Day! And while the endangerment of a species is never something to celebrate, the species themselves and the legislation that protects them certainly is.
Created in 1973, The Endangered Species Act (ESA) works to not only prevent the extinction of species, but also to protect the ecosystems on which they depend. Since signed into law, the ESA has protected 1,400 species, including 21 species in Alaska.
Each time a species is listed, a science-driven recovery plan is created; so far these plans have been so effective that over 99% of the species originally listed under the ESA are still with us today.
Unfortunately, the current administration does not value endangered species, and issued a series of rollbacks to the ESA last year that are clearly meant to open the way for new mining, drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. The rollbacks also make it harder to protect critical habitat and include no automatic prohibitions on the harming or killing, import or export of threatened species listed in the future. Overall, the new changes prioritize political and economic gain, and greatly decrease science-based decision making when it comes to species listings.
For more information on the ESA, and what you can do to support those working to protect the Act, check out the NRDC here.