COAL VALLEY, Ill. — The Endangered Species Act turns 50 this year.
Signed into law on Dec. 28, 1973, the ESA protects fish, wildlife and flora on the endangered species or threatened species list.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "The law requires federal agencies, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or the NOAA Fisheries Service, to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species."
The ESA also allows people to petition to include or remove species on the list, which is only done after extensive research on the the specific species' population numbers, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Niabi Zoo Director Lee Jackson says the ESA is a big reason why the American Bald Eagle isn't extinct.
"[The U.S. Government] looked at some of the insecticides and pesticides that we were using at the time," Jackson said. "And we found that one particularly famous one dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane played a role in the decline of those animals. So when we started to control that, we controlled hunting and protected habitats. Those three things together, brought those animals back from the brink."