The Endangered Species Act was passed by Congress and became effective on 28 December 1973.
Congress found and declared:
- various species of fish, wildlife, and plants in the United States have been rendered extinct as a consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation;
- other species of fish, wildlife, and plants have been so depleted in numbers that they are in danger of or threatened with extinction;
- these species of fish, wildlife, and plants are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people;
- the United States has pledged itself as a sovereign state in the international community to conserve to the extent practicable the various species of fish or wildlife and plants facing extinction, pursuant to the many treaties and Conventions that the U.S. Government is a party to;
- encouraging the States and other interested parties, through Federal financial assistance and a system of incentives, to develop and maintain conservation programs which meet national and international standards is a key to meeting the Nation's international commitments and to better safeguarding, for the benefit of all citizens, the Nation's heritage in fish, wildlife, and plants.
Congress set policy as:
- It is further declared to be the policy of Congress that all Federal departments and agencies shall seek to conserve endangered species and threatened species and shall utilize their authorities in furtherance of the purposes of this Act.
- It is further declared to be the policy of Congress that Federal agencies shall cooperate with State and local agencies to resolve water resource issues in concert with conservation of endangered species.
16 U.S.C. 1538(a) (1)(B) - Except as provided in sections 6(g)(2) and 10 of this Act with respect to any endangered species of fish or wildlife listed pursuant to section 4 of this Act, it is unlawful for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take any such species within the United States or the territorial sea of the United States.
16 U.S.C. 1538(a)(1)(D) - possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship, buy any means whatsoever, any such species taken in violation of subparagraphs (B) and (C).
The term "take" means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct.
Any person who knowingly violates any provision of this Act or of any regulation issued in order to implement the Act shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $100,000.00 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. (The fine amount doubles to $200,000.00 for any corporation.)
Any person who knowingly violates any provision of this Act or any regulation issued in order to implement the Act may be assess a civil penalty by the Secretary of not more than $25,000.00 for each violation. Each violation shall be a separate violation.
All guns, traps, nets, and other equipment, vessels, vehicles, aircraft, and other means of transportation used to aid the taking, possessing, selling, purchasing, offering or sale or purchase, transporting, delivering, receiving, carrying, shipping, exporting, or importing of any fish or wildlife or plants in violation of this Act, and regulation made pursuant thereto, or any permit or certificate issued there under shall be subject to forfeiture to the United States upon conviction of a criminal violation pursuant to section 11(b)(1) of this Act.
The Secretary or the Secretary of the Treasury shall pay, from sums received as penalties, fines, or forfeitures of property for any violation of this Act or any regulation issued hereunder 1) a reward to any person who furnishes information which leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, civil penalty assessment, or forfeiture of property for any violation of this Act or any regulation issued hereunder.