Endangered Species Act



The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted in 1973 for the purpose of providing federal protection to species of wildlife that are in danger of becoming extinct. Although the ESA is considered the most powerful piece of legislation dedicated to conserving wildlife, it is not the first piece of legislation with that purpose. In 1966, Congress passed the Endangered Species Preservation Act which authorized the Secretary of the Interior to put together a list of endangered species and provided the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) with $15 million per year to buy habitat for the species on that list. Three years later in 1969, Congress passed the Endangered Species Conservation Act which allowed the Secretary of Interior to list foreign species and prohibited the importation of products made from such species. The ESA ultimately replaced the 1969 Act, providing endangered species with more protection than any legislation that had come before it.  Read the full overview

Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1544


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, 50 C.F.R. part 17
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), 50 C.F.R. part 23
General Endangered and Threatened Marine Species, 50 C.F.R. part 222
Threatened Marine and Anadromous Species, 50 C.F.R. part 223
Endangered Marine and Anadromous Species, 50 C.F.R. part 224
Designated Critical Habitat, 50 C.F.R. part 226
Interagency Cooperation – Endangered Species Act of 1973, As Amended, 50 C.F.R. part 402
Listing Endangered and Threatened Species and Designating Critical Habitat, 50 C.F.R. part 424
Endangered Species Exemption Process, 50 C.F.R. subchapter C parts 450-453

Case Law

Case Law Index for Endangered Species Act

Center Research Publications

Biodiversity and Law: The Culture of Agriculture and the Nature of Nature Conservation (Harbison, 2004)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports – published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017
Subjects – published and made available by NALC until 2018

International Agriculture

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on the Endangered Species Act:

Environmental Issues

 Reference Resources

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

Threatened and Endangered Species

Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)

Endangered Species Act | Overview
Endangered Species
Endangered Species Act Document Library
ESA Implementation | Overview
ESA Implementation | Regulation Revisions
Regional Contacts
Environmental Conservation Online System

Delisted Species
Endangered Species Act Petitions Received by Fish & Wildlife Service
Listed Animals
Listed Plants
Species Proposed for Listing

Foreign Species | Overview
For Landowners | Safe Harbor Agreements
Habitat Conservation Plans | Overview

Habitat Conservation Plan Handbook
Habitat Conservation Plans Under the Endangered Species Act

Listing and Critical Habitat | Overview

Listing a Species as a Threatened or Endangered Species

Recovery | Overview

Five-Year Status Reviews Under the Endangered Species Act
Recovery Plans Search

Success Stories

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators, Chapter 3.3 Wildlife Resources Conservation
Report: The Economics of Agricultural and Wildlife Smuggling (Ferrier, 2009)

Topic: Policy Instruments for Protecting Environmental Quality

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Fact Sheets on Twelve Endangered Species
New Source Review Permitting – Endangered Species Act Consultation
Protecting Endangered Species from Pesticides
Summary of the Endangered Species Act

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Selected Pasture, Forage and Rangeland Publications
Wildlife and Biological Resources

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration – Fisheries (NOAA)

Endangered Species Conservation

Critical Habitat
Endangered Species Act Guidance, Policies, and Regulations
Foreign Species
Listing Species Under the Endangered Species Act
Petitions Awaiting 90-Day Findings
Proposed Species Under the Endangered Species Act
Recovery of Species Under the Endangered Species Act
Species Directory – ESA Threatened & Endangered

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Endangered Species Act Compliance at NRCS
Healthy Forests Reserve Program
Insects & Pollinators

Monarch Butterflies

Working Lands for Wildlife

Wildlife Conservation Strategies

Congressional Resources

House Natural Resources Committee
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Reports on the Endangered Species Act (Government Accountability Office)
Republican Policy Committee | Modernizing the Endangered Species Act

Other Federal Resources

Endangered Species (Housing of Urban Development Exchange)
Federal Register – Endangered & Threatened Species
Grizzly Bears & the Endangered Species Act (National Park Service)
Laws and Regulations to Protect Endangered Plants (Forest Service)
Northwest Forest Plan (Forest Service)

International Resources

Convention on Biological Diversity

Text of the Convention

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

List of Parties to the Convention
The CITES Species
What is CITES?

European Red List
Species Protection (European Commission)

 Additional Resources

American Farm Bureau Federation – Endangered Species Act
Endangered Species Law and Policy
Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium
Property and Environment Research Center


Private-sector conservation under the US Endangered Species Act: a return-on-investment perspective (Ecological Society of America, April 2020)
Do Regulations to Protect Endangered Species on Private Lands Affect Local Employment? (Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, September 2018)
Transforming (perceived) rigidity in environmental law through adaptive governance: a case of Endangered Species Act implementation (Ecology and Society Journal, 2017)
Safe Harbor Agreement: A Regulatory Assurance under the Endangered Species Act (University of Florida IFAS Extension, December 2015)