WWF Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act

Today, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. To celebrate, WWF has released the following statement:

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, one of the nation's bedrock environmental laws. Since 1973, the Endangered Species Act has prevented 99% of its listed species from extinction and has served as a global model for responsible wildlife protection. The Act represents one of the most significant innovations in conservation due to its comprehensive protection for species and their habitats, its science-based approach, its citizen engagement, interagency cooperation and the development of recovery plans and programs.

The Endangered Species Act plays a vital role in maintaining biodiversity which is crucial for ecosystem resilience and human health and wellbeing. It is increasingly important in the context of climate change, as shifting climates add additional stress on already struggling threatened and endangered wildlife.

World Wildlife Fund is deeply committed to amplifying the impact of the Endangered Species Act, and of the people whose lives and livelihoods depend upon its success. We work with local communities to implement conservation solutions that advance recovery of listed species like the black-footed ferret, one of North America’s most endangered mammals. The Endangered Species Act enabled the establishment of captive breeding programs and reintroductions to facilitate black-footed ferret recovery. Black-footed ferrets are on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss and sylvatic plague, a non-native disease lethal to both ferrets and prairie dogs, their main prey. Currently, there are about 390 ferrets in the wild, which is far below the 3,000 needed to achieve recovery.

Novel techniques and tools, including thermal cameras to detect ferrets at night and plague-protecting baits and vaccines, are vital to safeguarding this species. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act and collective efforts of many partners and innovative interventions, this masked bandit of the prairie now has a second chance to survive and thrive. On this day, WWF thanks and celebrates our partnerships with Native Nations, federal, state, and private entities, who are guiding the work to restore black-footed ferrets.

This anniversary of the Endangered Species Act underscores the importance of continued commitment, innovative conservation strategies, and ambitious cooperation to ensure that endangered species are protected for future generations. The 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act is a chance to reflect on the progress made and strengthen our resolve to address the complex ecological issues of our time.