ESL 21B Preparation for Final Exam
Summary of the Endangered Species Act
7 U.S.C. §136; 16 U.S.C. §460 et seq. (1973)
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) 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 a worldwide list which, as of Feb. 20, 2008, included 1574 endangered species (599 are plants) and 351 threatened species (148 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 requires federal agencies, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service, to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species. The law also prohibits any action that causes a "taking" of any listed species of endangered fish or wildlife. Likewise, import, export, interstate, and foreign commerce of listed species are all generally prohibited.
Be prepared to discuss the following:
1. What is the ESA, and why was it passed?
2. Has the ESA been successful in conserving threatened and endangered species?
3. What are the adverse consequences of the act?
4. Read the following scenario and take a position. How would you argue your points?
James and Irma Smith bought property in Florida near Disney World with the intention of building a hotel. They developed their business plan based on information they had read about a high demand for more hotel space in the area. They spent $500,000 to purchase the land for the hotel and began working with an architect and a contractor. As they began to break ground for the project, they received a letter from the US Fish and Wildlife Service indicating that they were not permitted to build a hotel on their land because the area was part of the last remaining habitat for the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) and the striped mud turtle (kinosternon baurii), two species registered as endangered on the ESA's endangered species list. It was also home to many other threatened species including: the Southeastern American kestrel (Falco sparverius paulus), bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and osprey (Pandion haliaetus).
How would you try to convince the Smiths that they should not build a hotel on their property? OR
How would you try to convince the US Fish and Wildlife Service that the Smiths should be allowed to build a hotel on their property?