Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act — one of the U.S.’ most pivotal attempts at saving threatened wildlife.

Why it matters: The act has helped save hundreds of species from extinction, per the Department of the Interior, though a lack of funding and efforts to weaken the act among lawmakers have posed challenges to the law.

The big picture: In an effort to protect threatened wildlife, then-President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act on Dec. 28, 1973.

  • Nixon said the act would give the federal government the authority to identify endangered species early on and the “means to act quickly and thoroughly” to prevent species from becoming extinct, per the American Presidency Project at UC Santa Barbara.
  • “Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed,” Nixon added.
  • The Endangered Species Act was also designed to “promote the conservation of ecosystems and habitats necessary for the survival of those species,” according to the Interior Department.

Between the lines: In recent years, several lawmakers have sought to weaken the law, which the nonprofit conservation organization Defenders of Wildlife mainly attributes to “economic interests.”

  • Decades of “inadequate” funding for […]
Read the Full Article