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SOS: 50 Years after the Endangered Species Act

A blunt-nosed leopard lizard, listed as endangered, sits in the blackened and charred grass of the Almond Fire which which burned over 5,200 acres (2100 hectares) in Lost Hills, California.
A blunt-nosed leopard lizard, listed as endangered, sits in the blackened and charred grass of the Almond Fire which which burned over 5,200 acres (2100 hectares) in Lost Hills, California.

Scientists predict that more than 1 million species could go extinct in the coming decades. That’s according to theCenter for Biological Diversity. 

When a species goes extinct, there are consequences for entire ecosystems. The effects can be dire for those who depend on those species to survive. 

It’s been 50 years since Congress passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973 to protect plants and animals in the U.S. from extinction. 

Over 99 percent of the more than 1,600 species listed as endangered or threatened have survived.

But the work to protect our nation’s biodiversity is far from over. 

Just last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it was delisting 21 species from the act due to extinction. It included one species of bat and 10 kinds of birds.  

Fifty years later, what hasthe Endangered Species Act accomplished? And how should we be thinking about the next 50 years of conservation? 

This week, we’re talking about endangered species for a series marking the 50th anniversary of the landmark legislation. We’re calling it “SOS: Save Our Species.” We’ll also talk about keystone species and how we reintroduce animals when they’ve disappeared from a certain area. 

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Haili Blassingame, Amanda Williams