The Endangered Species Act (ESA) makes it illegal for anyone to "take" a fish or wildlife species listed as threatened or endangered. Federal agencies study the species’ population trends and changes to its habitat when making decisions to list a species under the act and restrict land use. Right now, about 1,450 species are listed with another 700 under review.
Why It Matters
The ultimate goal of the ESA is species recovery. Unfortunately, this goal often takes a back seat to another goal - land use regulation. Home builders and other private property owners seeking to comply with the ESA have often encountered regulations that do not contain sufficient scientific criteria for determining whether species are truly endangered, as well as improper and unreasonable habitat conservation and recovery plans to deal with listed species. Interagency jurisdictional disagreements and differing interpretations are even further sources of unnecessary delay, thus decreasing housing affordability and making it increasingly difficult to build communities in many areas of the country where these species live.