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

The National Agricultural Law Center’s Endangered Species Act Manual: A Practical Guide to the ESA for Agricultural Producers (Rollins, 2023)

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

Biodiveristy and the Law of Nature Conservation in Great Britain (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

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)

Endangered Species Act (ESA)
Biological Opinions & Evaluations Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultations

Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)

Endangered Species Act | Overview
Endangered Species
Endangered Species Act Milestones
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
Recovery Plans Search
Section 4(d) Rules Under the Endangered Species Act
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
Endangered Species Litigation and Associated Pesticide Limitations
New Source Review Permitting – Endangered Species Act Consultation
Protecting Endangered Species from Pesticides
Information For Pesticide Users
Summary of the Endangered Species Act

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Publications: Conservation Effects Assessment Project
Wildlife and Biological Resources

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration – Fisheries (NOAA)

Endangered Species Conservation
Glossary: Endangered Species Act
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
Recovery of Endangered and Threatened Species
Species Directory – ESA Threatened & Endangered
Protective Regulations for Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act: Section 4(d)

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Healthy Forests Reserve Program
Insects & Pollinators
Monarch Butterflies
Working Lands for Wildlife

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
Gateway to US Federal Science (Science.gov)
Endangered Species Act (Science.gov)
Threatened & Endangered Species (U.S. Geological Survey)
What are the differences between endangered, threatened, imperiled, and at-risk species? (U.S. Geological Survey)
Army Natural Resources Conservation — Endangered Species (Department of Defense Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health Network and Information Exchange)
The Columbia River Basin Federal Caucus
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)
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)
Red List of Threatened Species
Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)
Species At Risk (Government of Canada)
Species At Risk: The Act, The Accord and the Funding Programs (Government of Canada)
Species At Risk Public Registry (Government of Canada)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)

 Additional Resources

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


The Grey Wolf Relisted Under the Endangered Species Act Following a Court Order (National Associations of Counties, Feb. 2022)
Endangered Species Act Rollbacks Reversed After Animal Legal Defense Fund Lawsuit (Animal Legal Defense Fund, July 2022)
Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 Consultation and Infrastructure Projects (Congressional Research Service, Aug. 2021)
Collaborative Governance Under the Endangered Species Act: An Empirical Analysis of Protective Regulations (Yale Journal on Regulation, 2021)
The Gray Wolf Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA): A Case Study in Listing and Delisting Challenges (Congressional Research Service Reports, November 2020)
The effect of land use restrictions protecting endangered species on agricultural land values (Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, September 2020)
Private-sector conservation under the US Endangered Species Act: a return-on-investment perspective (Ecological Society of America, April 2020)
The Endangered Species Act and Climate Change: Selected Legal Issues (Congressional Research Service, Sep. 2019)
If you build it, they will come: ranching, riparian revegetation, and beaver colonization in Elko County, Nevada (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 2019)
Novel data show expert wildlife agencies are important to endangered species protection (Nature Communications, 2019)
Do Regulations to Protect Endangered Species on Private Lands Affect Local Employment? Evidence from the Listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken (Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, September 2018)
Missing, delayed, and old: The status of ESA recovery plans (Conservation Letters, August 2018)
Transforming (perceived) rigidity in environmental law through adaptive governance: a case of Endangered Species Act implementation (Ecology and Society Journal, 2017)
Sage-Grouse Conservation: Background and Issues (Congressional Research Service Reports, August 2016)
Safe Harbor Agreement: A Regulatory Assurance under the Endangered Species Act (University of Florida IFAS Extension, December 2015)
Risk assessment considerations with regard to the potential impacts of pesticides on endangered species (Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 2014)
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Claims of Property Rights “Takings” (Congressional Research Service Reports, January 2013)
Sustainable Water and Environmental Management in the California Bay-Delta (National Resource Council, 2012)