Modernization of the Endangered Species Act

Number: 2015-01

WHEREAS, for more than 40 years, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has served as the nation's safety net for imperiled fish, wildlife and plant species; and

WHEREAS, the National Wildlife Federation encouraged passage of the Endangered Species Act and has long supported it as a bedrock environmental law, adopting 14 resolutions, litigating numerous lawsuits, developing extensive educational materials, and advocating to protect and conserve endangered species; and

WHEREAS, the Endangered Species Act has been tremendously successful, with approximately 99% of all listed species still being in existence today, and species such as the bald eagle, American alligator and others have recovered; and

WHEREAS, even when political officials charged with implementing the law have been hostile to wildlife conservation, the ESA has continued to protect habitat, foster active management and recovery efforts, and bring public attention, effort, and funding to stewardship of the natural world; and

WHEREAS, while the vast majority of species still listed remain so because they are not yet recovered, there is controversy with regards to the delisting of species in accordance with the Endangered Species Act, especially species such as the gray wolf, where lawsuits have prevented delisting, in the Western Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains, which are recovered and represent a success story under the ESA.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Wildlife Federation, at its annual meeting assembled March 27-29, 2015 in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, restates its strong support for the Endangered Species Act and its objectives of recovering imperiled species, and supports the narrow and specific  correction in the second “RESOLVED” clause to improve implementation of the Act, provided that the Act must continue to protect all animals and plants that are threatened or endangered for any reason by providing an efficient means of listing based on the best available scientific and commercial data, by prohibiting federally-approved or undertaken actions that might jeopardize listed species, by prohibiting all activities that would result in a taking of any listed species, except as provided for already in the Act, and by promoting recovery planning and identifying the actions and strategies needed to recover a species and return management to the states; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Wildlife Federation supports strengthening the Endangered Species Act to ensure that there is a clear, durable, and enduring process for delisting and recognizing success once the species reaches its recovery goals and adequate management plans are in place provided that such strengthening effort is the result of a collaborative process including relevant stakeholders; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Wildlife Federation urges the federal government, state agencies, and conservation advocates to focus on addressing the cause of the decline of species so that recovery plans and listing and delisting decisions under the Endangered Species Act can be rooted in the best available science and will actually lead to recovery; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Wildlife Federation urges the necessary funding from Congress and the Administration to ensure the success of the Endangered Species Act in recovering threatened and endangered species.