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Arizona Game and Fish celebrates 40th anniversary of Endangered Species Act

PHOENIX — While the Arizona Game and Fish Department has been working to conserve imperiled wildlife species for much longer, today the department celebrates Endangered Species Day and marks the 40th anniversary of the federal act.
Arizona is home to 37 wildlife species that are considered either threatened or the more serious classification, endangered. The state’s most well-known endangered species are the California condor, Mexican wolf, black-footed ferret, jaguar, Mount Graham red squirrel, ocelot, Sonoran pronghorn and Apache trout.
Through Game and Fish’s active on-the-ground management, in partnership with federal, state, and tribal management authorities, Arizona’s greatest endangered species successes include:
Recovery of the bald eagle that led to delisting the species from the ESA. The population went from only 11 breeding pairs in 1973 to more than 55 today.
Growth of Arizona’s Sonoran pronghorn population from 21 animals to nearly 200 today.
Restoration of Apache trout that led to “downlisting” (moved from endangered to threatened) and allowed for limited angling opportunities in the state.
Reintroduction of the California condor, which had virtually reached extinction and now numbers more than 70 birds in the wild Arizona-Utah population.
Milestone accomplishment for the reintroduced black-footed ferret, which now boasts a self-sustaining population that no longer requires the release of captive animals to maintain a healthy population.
The act offers several “tools” that help states further wildlife conservation. The 10(j) rule has proven a critical tool in garnering public acceptance of some of Arizona’s most significant reintroduction programs. The 10(j) rule provides assurances to local communities that land use will not be restricted due to the new presence of an endangered species and, without the 10(j) rule, the reintroduction of condors and wolves are unlikely to have occurred in Arizona. To learn more about the benefits of the 10(j) Rule, watch www.youtube.com/azgfd.
Safe Harbor and Candidate Conservation Agreements also serve as a tool for conserving listed species on non-federal lands and encourage non-federal landowners to voluntarily participate in conservation efforts of species like the Chiricahua leopard frog. These agreements provide regulatory protection to landowners and their adjacent neighbors against additional regulatory restrictions.
The Endangered Species Act was passed by Congress in 1973 out of concern that many of the nation’s native plants and animals were in danger of becoming extinct. The ESA is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (service) and is intended to recover species to a point where they no longer require protection under the act. Game and Fish partners with the service to manage endangered species, but even more importantly, to prevent species from becoming endangered and proactively conserve them in a more cost-effective manner. State-level involvement provides closer oversight of wildlife species on a day-to-day basis.
Under the ESA, species are considered either endangered if they are in imminent danger of becoming extinct throughout their range, or a significant portion of their range, or threatened if they are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.
Today, the ESA protects over 1,400 U.S. species and 600 foreign species.
For more information on conserving Arizona’s endangered species, visit www.azgfd.gov/nongame.

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