16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1544

The full text of the " Endangered Species Act of 1973," including most of its subsequent amendments to date (currently codified at 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1544), may be viewed in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format by clicking HERE. However, to determine the most current language of any revisions, as well as the current status of any provision of the Act, check HERE .

Alternatively, each individual section of the Act may be viewed separately (again in .pdf format) by clicking on the appropriate link below. Descriptive summaries of the basic content of each Section of the Act are also provided. Certain "key" sections of the Act are of particular significance in this Course. These sections are indicated by a special symbol.

A thorough overview of the Endangered Species Act prepared by that explains most of the Act's main features may also may be viewed in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format by clicking HERE.

Preamble. This section simply gives the Title and specific purpose of the Act: to provide for the conservation of endangered and threatened species of fish, wildlife, and plants, and for other purposes.

Section 2: Findings, Purposes, and Policy. This section provides some basic background into the reasons for the Act, as well as its history and Congress' intent in enacting it.

Section 3: Definitions. This section provides defines each of the various terms and concepts used throughout the Act.

Section 4: Determination of Endangered Species and Threatened Species. The basic structure of the ESA is designed around the concept of protecting individual species that are classified as either "endangered" or "threatened." This section addresses how individual species are protected under the Act through a formal "listing," as well as the the various procedural implications of such classifications. It also addresses how protected species can be "removed" from these "lists."

Section 5: Land Acquisition. This section addresses the various procedures in which land may be acquired from both private and governmental landowners, or otherwise set aside, as habitat for the protection of "listed" species.

Section 6: Cooperation with the States. This section focuses upon state agencies that undertake programs for the protection of "listed" species by encouraging cooperation between state and federal agencies relative to the protection of "listed" species. It also mandates specific priorities relative to the resolution of conflicts that do arise.

Section 7: Interagency Cooperation. This section addresses how conflicts among different federal agencies are handled with respect to the protection of "listed" species under the Act. It also establishes an "Endangered Species Committee" to act as the ultimate arbiter in resolving disputes and in construing and carrying out the intended purposes of the Act.

Section 8: International Cooperation. This section encourages cooperation between the federal government and foreign governments in establishing treaties and other economic incentives for the protection of species "listed" under the Act.

Section 8A: Convention Implementation. This section articulates specific procedures for implementing international cooperation and in establishing international conventions for the protection of "listed' species.

Section 9: Prohibited Acts. This section articulates a list of specific activities that constitute a violation of the Act, as well as any Convention established under the Act.

Section 10: Exceptions. This section articulates a number of exceptions to prohibitions imposed under the Act. Specifically, this section addresses "incidental takes," hardship exceptions, exceptions granted to certain native peoples, experimental populations and a variety of other exceptions.

Section 11: Penalties and Enforcement. This section sets forth the penalties for both civil and criminal violations of the Act, as well as the procedures for prosecuting and defennding such violations. This section also creates specific procedures by which private "citizen suits" may be maintained under the Act.

Section 12: Endangered Plants. This section expressly includes plants within the scope of protection provided to "species" under the Act.

Section 13: Conforming Amendments. This section consists of various amendments to other Acts.

Section 14: Repealer. This section consists of prior repeals of various provisions of the Act.

Section 15: Authorization of Appropriations. This section contains authorization for the original funding for the operations of the Act, as well as subsequent re-authorizations of funding through 1992.

Section 16: Effective Date. This section states in its entirety that "[t]his Act shall take effect on the date of its enactment."

Section 17: Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. This section states in its entirety that "[e]xcept as otherwise provided in this Act, no provision of this Act shall take precedence over any more restrictive conflicting provision of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972."

Section 18: Annual Cost Analysis by the Fish and Wildlife Service. This section requires an annual cost accounting by the Secretary of Interior on a species by species basis for all expenditures of federal government funds incurred under the Act for the preservation of "listed" species during the preceeding fiscal year.