May 16 is Endangered Species Day
Pat Sziber

The Endangered Species Act was created by Congress in 1973 in response to alarming decreases in populations of a number of American animal species including our national symbol, the Bald Eagle. In those forty-one years, due to protections afforded by the Act, we have seen the stabilization and even the recovery of a number of species that had been on the brink. The Bald Eagle was de-listed from the national list in 2007, though its breeding status is still listed as endangered by the State of New Jersey. Peregrine Falcons have increased in numbers. Manatee, sea turtles and Sea Otter populations are slowly recovering. Recent polling shows that 84% of Americans support the Endangered Species Act and 87% agree itís a successful safety net for protecting wildlife, plants and fish from extinction. Endangered Species Day celebrates these and other success stories, and seeks to raise awareness of continued threats and the work that still needs to be done to protect our cherished native wildlife and plants.

This brings us to actions at the national level that threaten to erode the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act, often in the form of decreased funding for several critical federal programs that are important to implementation of the Act. Between 2010 and 2013 funding for some key agencies was decreased by an average of 19%. Further cuts are once again being considered. Agencies include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species and Cooperative Recovery Program; U.S. Forest Service Wildlife and Fisheries Habitat Management Program; and the Bureau of Land Management Threatened and Endangered Species and Wildlife Management Program.

The deadline for members of Congress to tell their Appropriations Committees to increase funding in the 2015 fiscal year budget for programs critical to implementation of the Endangered Species Act has already passed. However, we need to track the actions of our legislators and continue to monitor any legislation that might have an effect, one way or the other, on protection of wildlife and the habitats on which they depend. You can track legislation at the official websites of the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively, at: and

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Last revision: Wednesday, April 30, 2014