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The Endangered Species Act is one of the most effective, and arguably the best known, environmental laws in the United States. It has been in place since President Nixon signed it into law in 1973, and it enjoys broad support among the American public.
In a 2016 report, the American Bird Conservancy found that recovery success for listed bird species was at 70 percent nationwide — 78 percent for mainland birds and 52 percent for Hawaiian species. Some have recovered enough to have been delisted while others have bounced back but have yet to meet recovery goals.
Despite the public support and decent track record, Congress has been trying to weaken the law for years, and the Trump administration recently joined in by proposing fundamental changes to the way the ESA is implemented.
Audubon, the American Bird Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and other conservation groups are pushing back. To add your voice, visit their websites to learn how. And if you need a bit of inspiration — and examples of birds that have benefited from being listed under the ESA — flip through the following slideshow. The photos all come from talented photographers who’ve added their images to our online galleries. — Matt Mendenhall
“The Brown Pelican has rebounded dramatically from 1970s lows thanks to the ban on DDT, reintroductions, and the establishment of several key National Wildlife Refuges," according to the American Bird Conservancy. "The pelican’s Southeast population segment now numbers more than 100,000 birds and was delisted in 1985. In 2009, the West Gulf, California, and Caribbean populations were also delisted."Tony Britton took this closeup in Sausalito, California.