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Endangered Species Act

Proposed Reform

In 1995, Congress, intent on rewriting the ESA to loosen restrictions on private landowners, imposed a MORATORIUM on all new-species listings and critical habitat designations. The moratorium, passed as a rider to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations and Rescissions for the DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE to Preserve and Enhance Military Readiness Act of 1995 (Pub. L. No. 104-6, 109 Stat. 73), prohibited Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt from spending funds to identify and list any additional endangered or threatened species.

The 1995 freeze created a backlog of nearly 250 plants and animals awaiting decision on protected status under the ESA. In 1996, as part of an agreement on federal spending for the current fiscal year, Congress agreed to waive the moratorium, and the President BILL CLINTON administration began resolving the backlog, focusing first on species facing immediate extinction, then on species that biologists determined would be most likely to recover if given full protection under the law.

In latter 2000, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service jointly published their final policy, effective October 20, 2000, for the controlled propagation of listed species, pursuant to organized and approved recovery plans, or as necessary to prevent extinction of a species. As of March 2003, 561 distinct approved recovery plans were listed, some of which covered more than one species.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plant Species, 2003
Mammals Birds Reptiles Amphibians Fishes Snails Clams Crustaceans Insects Arachnids Plants
SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Threatened and Endangered Species System, Summary of Listed Species, 2003.
Endangered Species
Total 316 253 78 20 82 22 64 18 39 12 599
U.S. only 65 78 14 12 71 21 62 18 35 12 598
Foreign only 251 175 64 8 11 1 2 4 1
Threatened Species
Total 26 20 37 10 44 11 8 3 9 149
U.S. only 9 14 22 9 44 11 8 3 9 147
Foreign only 17 6 15 1 2

Additional topics

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