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


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 §§ 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
Hunting, Recreation, and Wildlife
Public Lands

Reference Resources

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

            Threatened and Endangered Species

Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)

            Endangered Species

            Endangered Species Act Document Library

            ESA Implementation | Overview

            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)

 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


Endangered Species Act: How it Affects Rangelands (eXtension, November 2015)

Safe Harbor Agreement: A Regulatory Assurance under the Endangered Species Act (University of Florida IFAS Extension, December 2015)