The Endangered Species Act 101: Section 7

Learn how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) works in our new series! Meg Evansen, our Conservation Science & Policy Analyst, explains the Endangered Species Act in under 90 seconds in this helpful a series of primers.

Part 3 of the series explores how Section 7 helps recover endangered species like grizzly bears. Meg looks at how Section 7 provides solutions for both, grizzly bears and people, as we work to protect wildlife from extinction.

Click to view video transcript

When the grizzly bear was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1975, its population in the lower 48 states was less than 1,000 bears.

And it is currently listed as threatened.

Section 7 is often considered one of the most important components of the ESA because it requires all federal agencies to help conserve threatened and endangered species.

Agencies must use their authority to proactively conserve grizzly bears and other listed wildlife by considering the species’ needs when carrying out the agency mission.

Section 7 ensures that any action a federal agency takes, funds, or authorizes will not jeopardize the continued existence of a species like grizzly bears, or damage any designated critical habitat.

To make sure federal agencies meet this requirement, they must consult with the conservation experts at either the Fish & Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service.

If the experts find problems, they’ll work with the agency to help minimize harm to species and habitat, but the vast majority of projects need minimal modification before moving ahead.

In a study done here at Defenders, just 2 projects out of over 88,000 between 2008 and 2015 required substantial modification to comply with section 7.

Section 7 is a “look before you leap” provision: it helps ensure federal agencies are keeping species’ needs in mind.

Finding solutions that work for both grizzly bears and people as we work to protect wildlife from extinction.

Meg Evansen
Previous Conservation Science and Policy Analyst

As the previous Conservation Science and Policy Analyst in the Center for Conservation Innovation at Defenders, Meg assisted with the analysis of scientific research and policy implementation to find new and creative solutions for wildlife conservation.