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Since it’s creation in 1973, The Endangered Species Act has become one of America’s most important and effective environmental laws. It represents the American people making a commitment to work together to protect and restore species at risk of disappearing forever. According to polls, 84 percent of Americans are in support of the act and 87 percent believe it is a successful “safety net” for protecting species from extinction. So does majority rule? With popular vote among Americans and a very large amount of government funding thrown in the mix, it certainly does. The people responsible for protecting endangered species and the ESA are receiving the funding and support needed to make a difference.
The U.S. Federal and state governments spent about $1.7 billion to conserve endangered and threatened species under the ESA in 2012. Funding comes from almost every level of the federal government for protection and conservation efforts. Many species that receive the large expenditures have now met recovery criteria. A prime example is found with the Steller sea lion population and its removal for the Endangered Species Act after meeting criteria set in a recovery plan. The ESA expenditure of $1.7 billion is only a fraction of what is being spent to conserve all these species. This number doesn’t include the work of non-governmental organizations or individuals passionate about the cause.
With a pretty high success rate of preventing species from going extinct, the ESA works out a great impact with its funding. It currently protects more than 1,400 plant and animal species in the U.S. and its territories. To date only 10 species have gone extinct under the Act, 8 of which were likely extinct before they were protected. Scientist estimate that if it were not for the Act, 227 would have likely gone extinct since it was passed. A Center study documented 110 species that have had great recovery with a vast majority meeting or exceeding recovery timelines. To put in shorter terms, the Act has had a 99 percent success rate at preventing extinctions.
Along with success, conservationists aim to put a positive spin to their work. They have added a Green List of species to the existing Red List of endangered species. The Green List highlights those species that aren’t at risk of extinction, are “fully conserved”, and “that exist in ecologically significant numbers, interacting fully with other species in their ecosystems.” This positive reinforcement helps to highlight the fact that conservationists believe that conservation isn’t just about saving individual species, but also is about preserving intact ecosystems.
With government law backing, a massive federal and state fund, high success rates, and positivity and favoritism from conservationists and citizens alike, it is only evident that the people responsible for protecting endangered species are getting everything they need to make a difference. Billions of dollars go towards protecting these species and so many have been saved because of it. People are always willing to help towards the cause, whether it be a broad organization like Wildlife Conservation Society or a single-focused group like the Save The Manatee Club. The cause is seen all around with the facts. But all the same, the ones responsible for protecting endangered species stand on a solid ground of funding and support both.
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