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The political debate over what should be done about endangered species seems to be continuing without end. Calls are already emerging this year to place a multitude of species on the endangered list, including the emperor penguin, the Arizona toad, the African lion and many others.
The current endangered species list of both plants and animals numbers more than 9,000. This is considerably higher than the 78 different species mentioned under the original Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966. Nearly 50 years later, 72 of these 78 species still remain on the list, with only two recovered, three extinct and one removed due to an error in the data.
Since Richard Nixon signed the comprehensive Endangered Species Act of 1973, intended to “halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost” (emphasis added), only 30 of these 9,000 species have actually recovered, with 10 having gone extinct. This gives the Act, enforced by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an abysmal success rate of less than 1 percent, despite an average yearly budget of nearly $2 billion.