The Endangered Species Act 101: Section 9

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.

In the final chapter of our ESA series, Part 4, Meg walks through Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act. She uses whooping cranes as an example of how these protections make sure that listed species are afforded the opportunity to recover.

Click to view video transcript

Thanks to conservation efforts, the population of whooping cranes has gone from 20 or so to a few hundred, but it’s still endangered.

Instead of talking about what you should do to protect listed species - Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) outlines what you shouldn’t do.

Specifically, section 9 prohibits the “take” of any endangered species without a permit.

“Take” can mean any harming, harassing, trapping, collecting, or killing of an endangered species - or attempting to do so.

So you can’t go hunting for a sandhill crane and also “take” a whooping crane.

If you don’t have a special permit or exemption, you have to leave endangered species alone.

Landowners and others are protected from prosecution if their actions are legal, if the take is incidental, and if they develop a habitat conservation plan.

Other exemptions include permits granted for scientific purposes or to enhance the survival of a listed species, such as capturing a few wild individuals for relocation.

Section 9 is so important for species conservation.

Without its protections, the whooping crane would have likely gone extinct, hunted into oblivion like the passenger pigeon.

Thankfully these protections make sure that listed species are afforded the opportunity to recover.

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Meg Evansen
Conservation Science and Policy Analyst

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

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