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What Is the Endangered Species Act?
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 1973 as a broad effort to protect species and the habitat they live in. More than 1,000 American species are listed as either endangered or threatened. “Endangered” species are those considered close to extinction, while “threatened” species are those that are close to becoming endangered. Persons who harm a listed species or damage their habitat are subject to severe penalties.
Special interest groups have convinced many Americans that the ESA has been a great success. At the same time, they have used exaggerated claims of species extinction to convince the public that the ESA must be strengthened. Among these are estimates that one-third of U. S. species are in danger, and that 100 species a day worldwide are going extinct.
But these claims are based on guesswork, not on facts.