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Stay the Hand: New Directions for the Endangered Species Act

By Thomas France, Jack Tuholske

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The 1973 passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) stands as a landmark event in the evolution of wildlife law in the United States. While earlier statutes such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act required the consideration of wildlife values in federal agency decision making, the ESA mandated substantive protections for plants and animals listed under it as threatened or endangered. These protections have sharply modified or halted numerous activities which had the potential for affecting listed species. While the ESA has made an undeniable contribution towards protecting rare plant and wildlife species in the United States over the past fifteen years, key provisions of the law have received little attention from either federal agencies or the courts. In particular, the ESA's imposition of an affirmative duty on federal agencies to take all steps necessary to recover
threatened and endangered wildlife populations to the point where they no longer need the protections of the Act has been largely overlooked. Similarly, the potential breadth of the Act's prohibitions against the taking of any listed species has received only limited judicial scrutiny. Several recent initiatives on the part of both federal agencies and the nation's private conservation organizations have, however, focused renewed attention on these key provisions. As the importance of these measures continues to emerge, further changes in federal decision making and the better management of listed plants and animals can be expected.


Katie Carroll

Date 1986
Publication Title Public Land & Resources Law Review
Volume 7
Pages 1-19
Publisher University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Endangered species
  4. Environment
  5. Laws and regulations
  6. Nature
  7. Physical environment
  8. resource management
  9. Wild animals
  10. wildlife