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The Evolution of the Endangered Species Act

By Jillian Gelb Sauchelli

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The Endangered Species Act is often considered to be one of the most farreaching, and patently assertive federal statutes ever to be implemented by Congress. In fact, at its passage, “the Endangered Species Act of 1973 represented the most comprehensive legislation for the preservation of endangered species ever enacted by any nation.” While its effects are arguably widespread and varied, its goal is decidedly singular—to curb the rate of extinction of the planet’s endangered and threatened species. While Section 7 of the Act applies to federal agencies and actors and their potential to jeopardize endangered species, Sections 9 and 10 reach private actors as well. Despite the Act’s clearly valuable goals, its initial application provoked a deluge of backlash and outrage. Criticisms of the Act not only led to a damaged public perception, but also to insubstantial and inconsistent application, potentially to the detriment of the endangered
species the Act aims to protect.
In this paper, I will explore the history and evolution of the Endangered Species Act, from its early years of stringent application, the resulting backlash, and finally to the Acts transformation into an adversary of industry and the general public. Through this paper, I will seek to elucidate why the Act’s strict, comprehensive prohibitions ultimately overshadowed its vital intent with an examination of the downfalls of federal prohibitive policy. 


Katie Carroll

Date 2014
Publication Title Law School Student Scholarship
Publisher Seton Hall Law
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Conservation
  4. Ecology
  5. Endangered species
  6. Law and legal issues
  7. Laws and regulations
  8. Nature
  9. Wild animals
  10. wildlife