In order to be listed as a candidate, a species has to be found to qualify for protected status under the Endangered Species Act.
Whether or not a species is listed as endangered or threatened then depends on a number of factors, including the urgency and whether adequate protections exist through other means.
When deciding whether a species should be added to the Endangered Species List, the following criteria are evaluated:
- Has a large percentage of the species vital habitat been degraded or destroyed?
- Has the species been over-consumed by commercial, recreational, scientific or educational uses?
- Is the species threatened by disease or predation?
- Do current regulations or legislations inadequately protect the species?
- Are there other manmade factors that threaten the long-term survival of the species?
What does Endangered Species Act protection mean?
Once a species becomes listed as "endangered" or "threatened," it receives special protections by the federal government. Animals are protected from “take” and being traded or sold. A listed plant is protected if on federal property or if federal actions are involved, such as the issuing of a federal permit on private land.
The term "take" is used in the Endangered Species Act to include, "harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct." The law also protects against interfering in vital breeding and behavioral activities or degrading critical habitat.
The primary goal of the Endangered Species Act is to make species' populations healthy and vital so they can be delisted from the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service actively invest time and resources to bringing endangered or threatened species back from the brink of extinction.
Why should we protect Threatened and Endangered species?
The Endangered Species Act is very important, because it saves our native fish, plants and wildlife from going extinct. Once they are gone, they are gone forever and there is no going back. Losing even a single species can have disastrous impacts on the rest of the ecosystem, because the effects will be felt throughout the food chain.
From providing cures to deadly diseases to maintaining natural ecosystems and improving overall quality of life, the benefits of preserving threatened and endangered species are invaluable.
Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Endangered