The Trump administration recently announced a proposal that would gut the Endangered Species Act. The news follows in the wake of a report from the United Nations earlier this year that more than 1 million plants and animals around the world face extinction, some within decades, owing to human development, climate change and other threats. Mark Urban, director of UConn’s Center of Biological Risk, and associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, explains what the change would mean for America’s wild animals and plants.
Q: In the 46 years since it was signed into law by President Richard Nixon, how has the Endangered Species Act protected imperilled wildlife?
A: The creation of the Endangered Species Act, often called by its acronym ESA, created a framework for protecting declining species, which has served as a template for conservation efforts worldwide. The act creates a list of threatened and endangered species, develops recovery plans for those species, and ultimately provides a way to de-list them once they recover.
Currently more than 1,600 plants and animals are listed as endangered or threatened, ranging from the Alabama cavefish to the Zuni bluehead Sucker. In Connecticut, it protects beloved species like the bog turtle and small whorled pogonia orchid. MORE