Endangered Species Act (1973)

Hannah Anderson & Jessie L. Embry

In: Encyclopedia of Politics of the American West

Endangered Species Act (1973)

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  • In 1973 the U.S. Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which banned any action that harmed endangered or threatened species and created plans for species recovery. While the ESA slowed extinction rates, public reaction highlighted the tension between government, industry, and private landowners’ rights.

    With increased settlement, especially in the West, species such as bison faced grave threats to their populations. In response to vanishing animals, President Theodore Roosevelt, sometimes called the Conservationist President, declared in 1902, “Wild beasts and birds… are not the property merely of people today, but the property of the unborn generations, whose belongings we have no right to squander” (Chadwick and Sartore 1995). Organizations and legislation responded to this call for protection. For example, the National Audubon Society was incorporated ...

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