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New Report Outlines 10 Solutions for Improving the Endangered Species Act for its 50th Anniversary

  • Kat Dwyer
  • BOZEMAN, MT—Ahead of the 50th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act this December, a new report from The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), explores creative ideas to improve the landmark law’s conservation outcomes.

    Since the act became law five decades ago, most species listed under it have avoided extinction – a major success story. However, only a tiny fraction of listed species have ever recovered and come off the list. The vast majority remain at risk. The new report, A Field Guide for Wildlife Recovery: The Endangered Species Act’s Elusive Search to Recover Species—and What to Do About It, highlights wildlife that exemplify various aspects of endangered species policy and proposes specific improvements to encourage wildlife recovery over the act’s second half-century and beyond.

    “The Endangered Species Act has saved countless species from extinction while causing friction with a sizable faction of landowners,” said PERC CEO Brian Yablonski. “While some want to strip it and others want to permanently enshrine it, we see exciting opportunities to enhance it for wildlife and landowners alike. With two-thirds of endangered species found on private land, it is essential that our conservation laws incentivize private efforts to restore and provide habitat.”

    A Field Guide for Wildlife Recovery presents 10 ideas to enhance the recovery of imperiled species. From the West Indian Manatee and tailored recovery plans to the Monarch Butterfly and voluntary conservation efforts, the report proposes specific improvements to encourage effective recovery. 

    A major challenge to species recovery is that the Endangered Species Act is heavy on stick and light on carrot. Sticks have their role in preventing harm to species, but carrots are how we restore habitat and recover species. An overreliance on the punitive approach turns at-risk wildlife and their habitats into liabilities rather than assets. The ideas outlined in the report could accelerate endangered species recovery by getting the incentives right, both by removing regulatory disincentives where appropriate to jump-start recovery, and by encouraging and rewarding proactive efforts.

    To read the full report, visit

    What People Are Saying

    PERC is a bright spot for creative thinking on effective ways to prevent more extinctions and achieve more endangered species recoveries. This report is a great field guide to more than two dozen policy ideas that deserve a more rational and less fanatical debate.

    Timothy Male, Executive Director, Environmental Policy Innvoation Center

    The Endangered Species Act has helped many species avoid extinction, and that is a major accomplishment. But the act was intended to do more than prevent extinction. It should also motivate the recovery of imperiled species. All of us concerned about the future of wildlife in this country should take a close look at the ideas explored in this report to ensure that imperiled species not only avoid extinction, but can recover and thrive.

    Steven Williams, Former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director, and Wildlife Management Institute President

    To restore our ecosystems and conserve the Earth’s biodiversity, we must recover—not just protect—endangered species. This must-read report showcases opportunities to do just that—by working with states, private landowners, and other partners. It is a significant research guide to making the Endangered Species Act more effective.

    Lowell E. Baier, Author, The Codex of the Endangered Species Act


    The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) is the national leader in market solutions for conservation, with over 40 years of research and a network of respected scholars and practitioners. Through research, law and policy, and innovative applied conservation programs, PERC explores how aligning incentives for environmental stewardship produces sustainable outcomes for land, water, and wildlife. Founded in 1980, PERC is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and proudly based in Bozeman, Montana.

    For media inquiries, contact Kat Dwyer: (406) 587-9591

    Written By
    • Kat Dwyer
      Kat Dwyer
      • Marketing & Media Manager

      Kat Dwyer is PERC’s marketing and media manager.

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