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Endangered Species Legislation Essay

2375 words - 10 pages

The latter half of the twentieth century was host to the greatest and most widespread advancements in environmental awareness in human history. It was during this time that people began to consider the effects of their polluting cars and their wasteful habits. People began to realize that something must be done to curb humans’ negative impacts on their surroundings and thus the environmental movement was born. One of the most important factors that resulted from this expansion of environmental consciousness occurring over the last several decades has been the protection of endangered species. Much has been done in the legal world to ensure the continued longevity of our planet’s diversity, including two major policies: CITES and the Endangered Species Act. Each of these policies has approached the welfare of endangered species in a different way, with varying degrees of success. Each strategy will be summarized and analyzed, beginning with the CITES treaty, as it was enacted before the Endangered Species Act. However, before examining the function and effectiveness of each strategy, it is important to understand the history behind each one of them.
In 1966, Congress passed the Endangered Species Preservation Act, a piece of legislation designed to provide limited protection to a list of native animal species. The Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Defense were responsible for the protection of these species and the preservation of their habitats. It also allotted land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help maintain these natural habitats. In 1969, the Act was amended because further protection was necessary. With the threat of worldwide extinction, the amendment called for an international meeting and changed the name to the Endangered Species Conservation Act .
Several years later, in 1973, the United States and twenty-three other nations took the Endangered Species Conservation Act a step further when they signed an international treaty called CITES, or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna, the first of the two major policies to be discussed here. CITES monitors, and often restricts international commerce in an effort to protect species impacted by trade. Talks of creating such a convention began in the 60s, when several African countries noticed population declines in species that are commonly killed for their skins; jaguar skins at that time were being imported to the US at rates of up to 13,000 skins per year. 1974 saw the drafting and signing of the actual treaty at a conference in Stockholm, Sweden, and by 1975, the requisite ten countries had ratified it and the treaty went into effect. Being international in scope, this treaty was widely celebrated as a huge advancement in endangered species legislation. To this day, it is still considered one of the most important international endangered species treaties in existence . Also in 1973, Congress passed the...

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