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Top 10 Wildlife Legislative Acts in the United States

Updated on March 28, 2011

1. Endangered Species Act, 1973

Agency: Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Under this act endangered species as well as their habitats are protected by federal law.

Main Points:

1. The Secretary of Commerce is in charge of determining which species are threatened and should be placed under the protection of the act.

2. After a species is deigned endangered, the Secretary will then determine a conservation/recovery plan.

3. When a species reaches a “recovery point” it will be removed from the list of protected species.

4. This act makes it illegal to import or export endangered species into or out of the United States.

5. The Secretary may permit exceptions as he sees fit.

2. North American Wetlands Conservation Act, 1989

Agency: Fish & Wildlife Service

Under this act the US government provides grants to agencies and owners who agree to conserve wetlands for the benefit of wetland wildlife.

Main Points:

1. Effective in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

2. Provides monetary incentive for individuals and businesses to preserve wetlands.

3. Congress contributes approximately 39 million dollars to the Act.

4. Additional money is provided by fines incurred under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

5. A small committee determines who will receive the grants based on a proposal submitted by the interested party.

3. Marine Mammal Protection Act, 1972

Agency: Marine Mammals Commission, Secretary of Commerce

This Act aims to protect marine mammals as well as their habitats and to ensure that marine mammal populations are able to flourish in the future.

Main Points:

1. Marine mammal populations are threatened by human activities.

2. Humans have a responsibility to see that populations do not decrease to a level from which they cannot be restored.

3. More information about marine mammal behavior is needed.

4. Programs should be established to encourage international cooperation.

5. Marine mammals are a significant resource and therefore should be sustained.

4. Sikes Act, 1960

Agency: Fish and Wildlife Service, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture

The goal of this act is to protect wildlife on military land.

Main Points:

1. Military land is valuable conservation territory.

2. Conservation programs should be developed on military lands.

3. The Secretary of each military program (i.e. army, navy, etc.) will be in charge of forming and carrying out a conservation plan for military land.

4. The Secretary of the Interior has permission to establish conservation program on government owned lands.

5. Congress will provide funding for the implicating and maintaining of these conservation programs.

5. Lacey Act, 1900

Agency: Secretary of the Interior

The main purpose of the act is to restore dwindling bird populations in the United States.

Main Points:

1. The Secretary of the Interior has the ability to instill restoration programs for migratory birds.

2. The Secretary of the Interior also has the ability to regulate bird populations in areas to which they are not native.

3. The Secretary must publish all laws and legislation as well as research findings regarding migratory birds.

4. The Secretary can distribute birds as he/she sees fit.

5. The Secretary can introduce birds to specific areas as he/she sees fit.

6. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 1934

Agency: Fish and Wildlife Service, Secretary of the Interior

Federal agencies must work in tandem with the Fish and Wildlife Service before altering any natural body of water.

Main Points:

1. The Fish and Wildlife Service will act as administrator to the wildlife resource in question where construction is to occur.

2. Federal construction agencies can acquire land for conservation programs.

3. Property owned by a federal agency but no longer in use may be used in a conservation program.

4. Wildlife must be considered as being of equal importance during water resource development programming.

5. The Secretary of the Interior has permission to make investigations into the status of wildlife and instill restoration programs as he/she sees fit.

7. National Marine Sanctuaries Act, 1972

Agency: National Marine Sanctuaries Program, Secretary of Commerce

The main goal of this act is to protect unique marine habitats.

Main Points:

1. Conservation efforts have been aimed mostly at terrestrial areas, not aqueous ones.

2. The Secretary and NMSP will offer alternatives to federal actions if they find that said actions will harm a marine habitat.

3. It is important to ensure that the habitat will be sustained for future generations.

4. It is important to designate and protect all marine environments of special significance.

5. It is important to conduct scientific research which might lead to better conservation methods in these marine areas.

8. Wilderness Act, 1964

Agency: Congress, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of the Interior

Enacted to define exactly what “wilderness” is and to protect wilderness lands.

Main Points:

1. Protected approximately 9 million acres of federal land.

2. Created National Wilderness Preservation System which decides what lands should be preserved as well as how to go about preserving them.

3. Once area is deigned “protected” only congress can alter the boundaries of that area.

4. Act ensures that increasing population will not result in habitation of all areas in the United States.

5. Act controls what uses of wilderness areas are allowed and which are not.

9. Migratory Bird Treaty, 1918

Agency: Department of the Interior

This treaty acts to regulate the hunting and killing of migratory birds and to end a commercial trade in migratory birds and their feathers.

Main Points:

1. All migratory birds and their parts (eggs, feathers, etc) are fully protected from hunting.

2. It is illegal to trade or sell migratory birds or their parts.

3. The US, Canada, Japan, Mexico and Russia are all in agreement as to which birds should be protected under the treaty, and all 5 countries have laws accordingly.

4. It is illegal to possess, buy or sell any materials associated with the hunting, trapping, or killing of migratory birds.

5. Being in possession of a bird protected by the act or attempting to sell or trade it is a felony.

10. Magnuson-Stevens Sustainable Fisheries and Conservation Act, 1996

Agency: National Marine Fisheries Service

This Act’s main goal is conserve current fish populations and ensure the abundance of fish populations in the future.

Main Points:

1. Fishing companies must take measures to minimize bycatch.

2. Certain fish habitats must be conserved and fishing companies must take measures to ensure that whatever detrimental effects their fishing practices have on habitat are minimal.

3. Regional councils will be in charge of enforcing and overseeing the stipulations of the SFA in their appointed areas.

4. More traditional, smaller scale fishermen should be preserved.

5. Overfished populations must be restored.


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    • Cheri Bermudez profile image

      Cheri Bermudez 6 years ago from Maryland

      Thanks Matt, I'm glad you found the info useful =)

    • profile image

      Matt G 6 years ago

      Thank you for listing all these down. I hope people will read this and will find it helpful as I did.

    • Cheri Bermudez profile image

      Cheri Bermudez 7 years ago from Maryland

      Thank you, I'm flattered! :)

    • Paul Kohler profile image

      Paul Kohler 7 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      I did I'm looking forward to reading more from you :)

    • Cheri Bermudez profile image

      Cheri Bermudez 7 years ago from Maryland

      Glad you found it helpful! =)

    • Paul Kohler profile image

      Paul Kohler 7 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      Awesome! thank you for sharing