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Summary of the Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act provides a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) of the Department of the Interior maintains the list of 632 endangered species (326 are plants) and 190 threatened species (78 are plants).

Species include birds, insects, fish, reptiles, mammals, crustaceans, flowers, grasses, and trees. Anyone can petition FWS to include a species on this list. The law prohibits any action, administrative or real, that results in a "taking" of a listed species, or adversely affects habitat. Likewise, import, export, interstate, and foreign commerce of listed species are all prohibited.

EPA's decision to register a pesticide is based in part on the risk of adverse effects on endangered species as well as environmental fate (how a pesticide will affect habitat). Under FIFRA, EPA can issue emergency suspensions of certain pesticides to cancel or restrict their use if an endangered species will be adversely affected. Under a new program, EPA, FWS, and USDA are distributing hundreds of county bulletins that include habitat maps, pesticide use elimitations, and other actions required to protect listed species.

Last updated: 10/20/97

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