Endangered Species Act:

Information on Species Protection on Nonfederal Lands

RCED-95-16: Published: Dec 20, 1994. Publicly Released: Jan 20, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) efforts to protect species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), focusing on: (1) the extent to which species listed under ESA have habitat on nonfederal lands; (2) how two ESA provisions have addressed potential conflicts between species protection and the use of nonfederal lands; and (3) the extent and nature of legal actions taken to protect endangered species.

GAO found that: (1) over 90 percent of the species protected under ESA have habitat on nonfederal lands; (2) nonfederal landowners have been required to alter their planned or ongoing activities in various ways to minimize and mitigate their potential impact on protected species; (3) FWS has enforced the ESA prohibition on the taking of protected species; (4) during fiscal years 1988 through 1993, FWS adjudicated 126 takings violations; (5) in at least four instances, FWS sought injunctive relief to stop or delay an activity on nonfederal lands that was viewed as posing a threat to a protected species; and (6) private citizens have claimed that species protection efforts have resulted in the uncompensated taking of private property in violation of the fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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