The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 to protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats, and protects both plants and animals. The ESA prohibits the import, export, interstate sale or “taking” of any listed species. “Take” is defined as “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.” The law is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service. In order for a species to be listed or delisted under the ESA, the proposed action must be published in the Federal Register and and the Secretary of the Interior must consider public comments on the proposal. Over 1,500 species are currently listed as either endangered or threatened under the ESA.
The ESA also allows the designation of critical habitat, so that a listed species' habitat can be protected.
The Endangered Species Act can be found at 16 U.S.C. § 1531, the full text of which is available here.
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