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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (the services) are responsible for administration and implementation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The act generally requires the services to develop recovery plans for endangered and threatened species--species facing extinction or likely to face extinction, respectively. Recovery plans identify threats to the species' survival and the actions needed to mitigate those threats. Proposed amendments to the act are under consideration and GAO was asked to provide information to facilitate this effort. In April 2006, GAO issued a report providing high-level information on the extent to which recovery plans contain estimates of when species are expected to be recovered, among other things. This follow-on report provides more detailed information on the factors that affect species recovery and the importance of recovery plans in recovery efforts. For 31 species--selected because they were nearing recovery, or had significant attention devoted to them and thus would be expected to be making progress towards recovery--GAO (1) identifies factors affecting the length of time to recover the species and (2) describes the role recovery plans have played in recovering these species. The Department of the Interior agreed with the facts presented in this report. The Department of Commerce declined to comment.

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