The Endangered Species Act 101: Myths Busted

Meg debunks three of the most common misconceptions surrounding the ESA in the latest episode of our Endangered Species Act 101 series.

Click to view video transcript The Endangered Species Act, or ESA, is a wildly popular law - an overwhelming majority of Americans across party lines support the ESA. But that doesn't mean there isn't confusion around what it does or doesn't do. Let's debunk some of the most common ESA myths.

Myth 1: The ESA doesn’t work

Since it was signed in 1973, over 95% of species that have been listed under the ESA are still with us today. That’s an incredible success story, especially in the face of chronic underfunding and worsening threats to species like climate change and habitat destruction.

Myth 2: The ESA stops economic development

In fact, the ESA creates significant economic benefits, including through tourism opportunities.

For example, the return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park brings an estimated $35 million a year in tourism revenue to the local economy.

And protecting wildlife and their habitats generally protects ecosystem services, like flood management, healthy soil for crops, and important pollinator species that help support the economy.

Myth 3: The ESA overrides private property rights

Many provisions focus on the federal government rather than individuals.

For example, critical habitat designation for listed species simply means the federal government must take care in how it carries out or authorizes actions on that land, not that private property owners lose their land rights.

Habitat conservation plans, safe harbor agreements, and candidate conservation agreements tools are all designed to protect wildlife while economic activities move forward.

Don’t let misinformation trip you up!

The Endangered Species Act is essential in helping both species and people thrive.

To learn more about the ESA, check out the rest of our ESA 101 series. Thanks for watching!

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.