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Back from the Brink Marks 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act

American Alligator Featured Among Top 10 Conservation Successes

Washington, D.C. – Forty years ago this month, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act—our nation’s safety net for fish, plants and wildlife on the brink of extinction. Today the Endangered Species Coalition marks the anniversary with a new report highlighting a few of the great wildlife conservation accomplishments since the act’s passage in 1973, including the American alligator. The report is titled Back from the Brink: Ten Success Stories Celebrating the Endangered Species Act at 40.

The report highlights ten species that, thanks to the Endangered Species Act’s protections, are either steadily improving or have been recovered and removed from the list of imperiled species, including the bald eagle, humpback whale, American alligator and more. A panel of distinguished scientists reviewed nominations from coalition member groups from around the country before selecting the ten species featured in the report.

Defenders of Wildlife nominated the American alligator for the report because “it is a stunning example of a species that has fully recovered in large part due to protections provided by the Endangered Species Act,” explains the organization’s Senior Florida Representative Elizabeth Fleming. “By conserving habitat and strictly controlling hunting and trade, we have been able to increase the population to the point where sustainable harvest programs provide economic incentives to conserve alligators and their aquatic habitats.” Alligators are a keystone species benefitting the marshes, swamps, rivers and lakes where they live and many other species found within their natural community. The status of Florida panthers, manatees, Key deer, sea turtles, American crocodiles and many other species have also improved since being listed on the Endangered Species Act.

More than 1,300 imperiled species of plants, fish and wildlife in the United States have been protected by the Endangered Species Act, and only ten have been formally delisted due to extinction, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Biologists have indicated that the task of recovering a species from near-extinction is a decades-long endeavor.

“Thanks to wisdom and the vision of Congress in 1973, our children will have the opportunity to witness the magnificent breaching of a humpback whale, or see a peregrine falcon soar through the sky,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “We owe it to future generations to continue to protect our endangered species and the special habitats they call home.”

When President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law on December 28, 1973, he announced, “Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed. It is a many-faceted treasure, of value to scholars, scientists, and nature lovers alike, and it forms a vital part of the heritage we all share as Americans.”

The Endangered Species Coalition has also produced a slide show to accompany the report, featuring stunning photos of each of the ten species in the report. The coalition produces a “Top 10” report annually. Previous years’ reports are also available on the coalition’s website, www.endangered.org.



Contact: Haley McKey, (202)-772-0247, hmckey@defenders.org

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.