What is the ESA? The “ESA” is the Endangered Species Act, signed by President Nixon in 1973. It is a federal law, administered by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (for sea-run fish) that seeks to protect species threatened with or in danger of extinction. It prohibits actions that harm the species (called a “taking” in the ESA), whether that harm occurs by direct action or indirectly by destroying the species’ habitat. The ESA maintains a list of animals and plants considered to be in danger of extinction, and sets out special rules for their protection.
While many have opposed the ESA and sought to change it, the fact that the law went unchanged during the current Republican Administration and recent Republican control of Congress may indicate that the ESA will be in place for many years to come.