The US Endangered Species Act By The Numbers
The US Endangered Species Act is a law that has been in effect for 40 years to protect threatened and endangered species. According to this study, the Act is failing to protect animals. The authors find that species get protection under the law once their populations are already too low for a strong recovery. And even after species are labeled “recovered,” they can still face threats, but since they are no longer classified as “endangered,” species are left helpless.
The study finds that even without threats, the low numbers can make it difficult to impossible for a species to survive. Right now, only 92% of threatened species and 69% of endangered have any possibility of recovering to the point where they are no longer endangered. And while most (93%) species have the required number of individuals to make a recover possible, changing environments means that long term sustainability could prove impossible. Many (68-91%) of the animal species on recovery plans don’t even have the minimum numbers to be able to make a recovery.
But the study does argue that activists are making progress. Newer recovery plans for animal species have much higher chances of eventually leading to removing species from the list and fostering recovery. More than anything, the authors argue, there is not enough research being done. 67-98% of species lack abundant data, which makes it difficult to track progress.