America's Biological Diversity

February 12, 1988

Report Outline
Special Focus


Fifteen years of federal efforts to save endangered plants and animals yield a story of pluses and minuses—a few species rescued but many others still imperiled. Congress, once again, is debating whether to renew the protection law it passed in 1973.

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The federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, now up for congressional renewal, may have saved the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, grizzly bear, American alligator and some other threatened wildlife. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists 485 species of animals and plants native to this country as still in danger of extinction, and there are biologists who say that the list should include 4,000 more names, many of them little-known reptiles, amphibians and plants.

The 1973 law “has given species a better chance for survival,” says Environmental Defense Fund attorney Michael J. Bean, “though the certainty of their survival has by no means been assured.” The last known dusky seaside sparrow died last year in a cage at Walt Disney World in Florida. The last California condors and blackfooted ferrets. clearly doomed in the wild, have been brought into captivity in desperate efforts to save them. The northern spotted owl in Pacific Northwest forests and the red-cockaded woodpecker in Southeastern pinelands are threatened by logging. Livestock grazing and off-road vehicles tear up the Western range where the desert tortoise hangs on; rare marine turtles drown in the nets of shrimp fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Wildlife and Endangered Species
Dec. 15, 2017  Species Extinction
Feb. 17, 2012  Invasive Species
Oct. 2010  Wildlife Smuggling
Jun. 03, 2005  Endangered Species Act Updated
Sep. 15, 2000  Mass Extinction
Oct. 01, 1999  Endangered Species Act
Apr. 19, 1996  Protecting Endangered Species
Aug. 28, 1992  Marine Mammals Vs. Fish
Jun. 21, 1991  Endangered Species
May 24, 1991  Animal Rights
Feb. 12, 1988  America's Biological Diversity
Aug. 02, 1985  Wildlife Management
Sep. 16, 1977  Protecting Endangered Wildlife
May 10, 1967  Wildlife Preservation
Wildlife and Endangered Species