Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown

News and research about endangered species from around the world

How much did the U.S. spend in 2007 to protect endangered species?


Protecting endangered species is an expensive proposition. The U.S. federal and state governments spent $1,537,283,091 toward conserving threatened and endangered species in 2007, plus another $126,086,999 in land purchases for habitat preservation, according to a new report from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS).

The 202-page report (PDF) covers species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and includes money spent in fiscal year 2007 (October 2006 to September 2007).

"Conservation" includes a wide variety of activities such as "research, census, law enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live trapping, and transplantation." On a broader note, the report defines conservation to incorporate "any and all actions taken by Federal and State agencies on behalf of threatened or endangered species listed pursuant to the Act."

The species that required the most money in 2007 was the Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), which appears on the list multiple times because it is endangered at multiple sites; it received a total of more than $165 million. Meanwhile, three other species of salmon— chum, coho and sockeye—required another $78 million in total spending, and the 11 populations of threatened steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), a close relative of the salmon, received $128 million.

Outside of the salmon family, the most money going to an individual species was spent on the western population of the endangered Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), which garnered $53,232,788.

Most species don't get that kind of expenditures, though. The vast majority of species received less than $100,000 in conservation funds for the year. Seven species got $100 or less. Three endangered species, including the Saimaa seal (Phoca hispida saimensis), did not receive a single dollar of federal or state funding in 2007. (Granted, Saimaa live in Finland, but they are protected under the ESA, as are many foreign species.)

Here are a few other highlights:

  • Gray wolves (Canis lupus), which lost much of their ESA protection this year, received approximately $4.3 million in funding in 2007.
  • The endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) received nearly $6.3 million in conservation funds. One of the main threats facing the bat is the deadly white-nose syndrome, which was discovered during the fiscal year this report covers.
  • Two highly controversial and hotly debated fish, the Delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) and the moapa dace (Moapa coriacea) received $6,678,869 and $120,534 in conservation spending, respectively
  • The Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) received $4,788,873. With an estimated population of just 100 adults, that translates to nearly $4,800 per animal.
  • Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) left the Endangered Species list in June 2007. During their last fiscal year of protection, they received nearly $9.5 million in conservation funds.

FWS isn't the only federal agency with expenses related to endangered or threatened species. In fact, FWS represents only about 7 percent of total federal expenditures related to the Endangered Species Act. The Federal Highway Association spent $34,977,711. The Army spent $45,093,322, while the Army Corps of Engineers spent $211,976,370. The Department of Energy's Bonneville Power Administration spent a whopping $533,223,325. Even the Bureau of Indian Affairs spent $75,000.

This is all just a drop in the bucket of the total funds required to protect endangered species. Millions come from NGOs and private organizations, and many states have their own endangered species lists, which cover some species not included on the federal ESA.

Image: Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in front of the U.S. flag. / John De Boer / StockXchng

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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