Endangered Species Day - May 19, 2023
Endangered Species Day is celebrated every year on the third Friday in May, encouraging people to learn about and take action to help endangered species. WWF highlights endangered wildlife every day, working to build awareness and partnerships with local communities, governments, businesses, and the rest of the world to take action to protect them.
The US Endangered Species Act (ESA) is our nation’s most effective law to protect at-risk species from extinction, with a stellar success rate: 99% of species listed on it have avoided extinction.
Passed with bipartisan support in 1973, the law allows individuals and organizations to petition to have a species listed as endangered or threatened. These listing petitions undergo rigorous scientific evaluation and public review before a final decision is made on whether a species should be protected. The law requires protection for critical habitat areas and the development and implementation of recovery plans for listed species. It also allows for flexibility in its implementation, requiring coordination among federal, state, tribal, and local officials on efforts to prevent extinction.
Populations are monitored over time to determine whether a given species is recovering. When species are considered recovered, they are removed from the list. Viewed as the gold standard for conservation legislation, the ESA is one of the world's most effective laws for preventing and reversing the decline of endangered and threatened wildlife. In 2016, more listed species were found to be partially or completely recovered than in any previous year since the ESA became law.
The rebound of a species is a gradual process that requires a long-term commitment dependent on many factors such as habitat, food availability, reproduction rate, and climate. The longer a species remains listed, the more likely it is to be recovering. Unfortunately, new regulations put in place by the Trump administration undermine the ESA, weakening the United States’ most powerful—and in some cases, only—tool to save species from extinction.