When it comes to protecting plants and animals on the brink of extinction, there’s no more powerful and important tool than the Endangered Species Act.
Since it was enacted in 1973, the Act’s rigorous, science-based approach has prevented the extinction of an impressive 99 percent of species under its protection. The law has also saved the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and American alligator and put hundreds of other plants and animals on the road to recovery.
Despite this success the Endangered Species Act is under attack like never before. At the behest of deep-pocketed special interests, congressional Republicans have launched a barrage of legislative attacks on endangered species in recent years, seeking to block, remove or weaken protections for a host of species, including gray wolves, American burying beetles, sage grouse and African elephants — among many others. Click here to look at all the Center-documented legislative attacks from 2011 to Trump’s inauguration.
To shed light on these attacks, the Center issued a report in 2015 — Politics of Extinction — and an update analysis for 2016, documenting a 676 percent increase in the rate of legislative attacks on endangered species since 2011, after the Supreme Court case of Citizens United. Republicans are overwhelmingly responsible for 94 percent of those attacks. The 114th Congress was the most anti-wildlife congress we'd ever had, before the Trump-era 115th Congress. It was responsible for 45 percent of all legislative attacks in the past 20 years and introduced more than 20 legislative assaults on gray wolves alone. In part responding to political pressure from congressional Republicans, states and industry, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has withdrawn or weakened protections for a number of species, including the American wolverine, lesser prairie chicken, bi-state population of sage grouse and others. Now, under the Trump administration, attacks on the Act will surpass even those by the last Congress and pose an even greater risk of passing into law.
More than any other group, the Center has been leading the charge in defense of the Endangered Species Act. From issuing reports and factsheets to working with congressional allies — or even, if necessary, going to court — the Center is there to ensure the integrity of our most important law for saving the planet by stemming the tide of the extinction crisis.
Numbers on this page will be updated regularly.