Questions for ‘Has the Endangered Species Act saved species from extinction?’

a little brown bat swooping towards a plant at night

Little brown bats are declining in the U.S. because of a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now evaluating whether this once-common mammal should be added to the U.S. endangered species list.

Michael Schirmacher, Bat Conservation International

To accompany ‘Has the Endangered Species Act saved species from extinction?


Before Reading:

  1. What does it mean for a species to be endangered? What does it mean for a species to be extinct?
  2. List at least three human activities that can negatively affect populations of plants or animals. For each activity, indicate if it harms the plants or animals directly or indirectly. (Indirect effects might include effects on food sources, habitat, environment or other factors that affect a species’ ability to live somewhere.)

During Reading:

  1. What are three factors that put North American bat populations at risk of decline in coming decades?
  2. When was the U.S. Endangered Species Act enacted?
  3. When did California condors go extinct in the wild? What allowed them to be reintroduced?
  4. According to a 2019 United Nations report, about how many species of plants and animals are at risk of going extinct globally?
  5. What does Erich Eberhard say are the two parallel goals of the Endangered Species Act?
  6. How many species have recovered enough to be removed from the list of protected species? How many others are no longer considered endangered (but remain threatened)?
  7. List at least three types of protections that a species might receive under the Endangered Species Act.
  8. What action by the International Whaling Commission seems to have allowed several whale populations to recover?
  9. What does Eberhard say is the single biggest threat to biodiversity right now?
  10. What is the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act? If it is passed by Congress, what would this law do?

After Reading:

  1. The ESA requires land developers to consider how projects might affect threatened or endangered species before building. Summarize a possible argument that a critic of the ESA might make against this requirement. What is a counterargument that an ESA supporter might make against this criticism? Which argument do you find more compelling, and why?
  2. As described in the story, some species added to the endangered species list were later found to have been extinct or nearly extinct at the time they were listed. Do you think it is useful to list a species that scientists think may already be extinct or nearly extinct? Why or why not? Support your answer using evidence from the story.