Recently, the Department of the Interior announced changes to how it will enforce the Endangered Species Act. In response, multiple states have threatened to sue and a New York Times’ piece described the changes as “significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law.” Despite the backlash, the changes to the ESA are likely to benefit endangered species by creating stronger incentives for private landowners to get involved in conservation.
The Endangered Species Act protects animals and plants in danger of going extinct. It has been credited with saving some of America’s most iconic wildlife like the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator. But despite these successes, only 2% of species have been delisted due to recovery. This success rate suggests the law has some room for improvement.
My research on conservation suggests that better involvement of private landowners in conservation efforts is a promising way to help more species recover. More than half of all endangered species rely on private land for the majority of their habitat, making private landowners a crucial piece of the conservation puzzle.