Often photographed clinging to Arctic ice floes as its habitat melts away into warming waters, the polar bear is the poster child for U.S. efforts to save wildlife on the brink of extinction using the Endangered Species Act.
But the act is quickly becoming a target of the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans who have introduced at least 11 pieces of legislation that could weaken it or prevent some threatened wildlife from being protected.
The Endangered Species Act, or ESA, was signed into law by President Nixon in 1973 and helps to protect more than 1,600 plant and animal species considered threatened or endangered. Thanks in large part to the signing of that act, many iconic wildlife species on the brink of extinction have recovered over the past 40 years, including the bald eagle, American alligator, peregrine falcon and gray wolf.
The act also promotes resiliency to climate change by protecting habitat and helping maintain natural systems, benefitting both humans and wildlife — even those that are not listed as endangered or threatened, said Dave Owen, a professor of natural resources law at the University of California-Hastings.
Read more at Congress Targets Species Act and Its Climate Benefits