Clarifying the Endangered Species Act’s “Distinct Population Segment” Policy Through the Lens of Grizzly Bears
By Max Chaffetz
Since the inception of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, roughly 2,300 plant and animal species have been listed as threatened or endangered, but only fifty-three have been officially delisted due to recovery. That trend is beginning to shift dramatically, however, as many species are now beginning to show signs of recovery after enjoying decades of protection. Of the fifty-three species delisted since 1973, over half (thirty-six) were delisted in the last ten years alone. But this wave of recovery has not come without administrative headaches for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). While the agency has successfully delisted a record number of species recently, it has also faced a record number of delisting failures. Since 2008, federal courts have vacated twelve attempts by the FWS to delist various animal species. In other terms, roughly 25% of the FWS’s attempts to delist a threatened or endangered species in the last ten years have resulted in significant time and resources being diverted from conservation efforts to sunk legal costs.
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