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40 Years Of The Endangered Species Act

National Geographic

Saturday marks the 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, which was passed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1973. Studies show the Endangered Species Act has been successful over the time of its existence.

The Gray Wolf or the Black-Footed Ferret are just two species currently on the endangered species list in South Dakota. At one point the Black-Footed Ferret was thought to be extinct but now specialists believe hundreds live in the state. Dan Ashe is the   Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  He says the Endangered Species Act is doing what it was designed to do.

"Well the Endangered Species Act is a commitment by the United States to conserve what we call biological diversity, to conserve a species for future generations," Ashe says.

Ashe says Wildlife biologists have learned from the history of species that once numbered in the millions have come close to extinction.

"We have seen species like the passenger pigeons; certainly one of the emblems of what goes wrong when we don’t think about the consequences of our actions, a bird that once numbered in the millions and millions," Ashe says.

Ashe says the Endangered Species Act is successful to bring other species back from extinction.

"Then when you think today about great successes like the Bald Eagle, so the recovery of the bald eagle was made possible in large part because of the protections the Endangered Species Act afforded," Ashe says.

Ashe says as human population grows it uses more of the earth's resources causing the depletion of habitat for many species. He says people can support the endangered wildlife in the United States.

"There are things that everyday people can do, for instance we have safe vanishing species stamps that you can buy at the post office. These are regular postal stamps that cost a little bit more then your normal first class postage stamp," Ashe says. "But that difference in cost goes into our endangered species conservation funds."

Ashe says as long as people continue to care about wildlife and the environment, then many species can thrive for future generations.