Endangered Species--A Controversial Issue Needing Resolution

CED-79-65: Published: Jul 2, 1979. Publicly Released: Jul 2, 1979.

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GAO reviewed the endangered species program as administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Its goals are to prevent endangerment and extinction of plant and animal species caused by man's influence on existing ecosystems and to return threatened and endangered species to the point where they are no longer threatened or endangered.

The listing process is the cornerstone of the endangered species program because it sets in motion all the other provisions of the art, including the protective regulations, consultation requirements, and recovery funding. However, deficiencies in the FWS listing process threaten effective implementation of the entire endangered species program. The consultation process still has conflicts involving ongoing and planned federal projects and programs. Further improvements could avoid unnecessary project delays and adverse impacts on endangered and threatened species and their critical habitats. Improvements are needed in the FWS recovery program, land acquisitions, state participation, and federal enforcement and prosecution.

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