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The Trump administration wants to roll back endangered species protections

By Emilie Plesset
Gwen Ifill Fellow

The Trump administration unveiled last week its proposal to roll back several provisions in the Endangered Species Act – a 1973 law that aims to conserve the country’s biodiversity and protect endangered species from extinction.

Critics say the changes would weaken the Nixon-era law’s ability to effectively protect fragile habitats and animals.

Among the proposed revisions, the administration wants to alter the ESA so that protections are decided on a case-by case basis, ending the current practice of more broadly providing protections to threatened wildlife of varying levels of decline. The proposals also advise the removal of language that forbids economic factors from being considered when deciding wildlife protections.

Here are five species that recovered from near extinction after being granted federal protections.

Bald eagle

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The American national symbol had nearly disappeared about 40 years ago due to the destruction of its habitat and contamination of its food by the now-illegal insecticide DDT. The bald eagle population has since recovered was eventually removed from the endangered species in August 2007.

Peregrine falcon

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The peregrine falcon population had declined sharply by 1975, when there were only 324 known pairs of American peregrine falcons, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. However, the population has since recovered and there are now thought to be between 2,000 and 3,000 pairs. The peregrine falcon was delisted in August 1999.

Gray wolf

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Hunting had nearly wiped out the gray wolf population in the Great Lakes region, but the population was able to rebound after hunting the animals was made illegal. Today there are estimated to be more than 5,000 gray wolves across the contiguous United States, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Gray whale

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Gray whales were nearly hunted to extinction in the 1950s. They prefer to give birth in shallow waters, making them a popular hunting target by the turn of the century. The whales are now protected by several international organizations, in addition to U.S. federal government agencies. The gray whale population has since recovered and was eventually removed from the ESAs’s endangered species list in 1994.

Grizzly bear

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The Yellowstone grizzly bear was delisted last year, with the population having grown from fewer than 150 to more than 700, according to the New York Times.