Organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation attempt to protect endangered animals by reducing threats that endangered species face, in addition to protecting and restoring the habitats of endangered species. The Federation also attempts to defend and strengthen the power of the Endangered Species Act.
The Endangered Species Act was created by Congress in 1973. Under the Act, the federal government is responsible for protecting species that are endangered or threatened. Any species of animal or plant that is likely to become extinct throughout all or a large area of their range is considered endangered. Threatened species are any species of animal or plant that will become endangered in the near future. The Endangered Species Act also requires the federal government to protect critical habitats that are vital to the survival of species that are endangered or threatened.
As of 2009 there are 1,361 species of animals and plants that are listed as either endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act in the United States. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service oversees the listing and protection of all terrestrial animals, freshwater fish and plants. The National Marine Fisheries Services oversees the listing and protection of all marine fish and wildlife. Theses agencies work in conjunction with the federal government to protect threatened and endangered animals from being traded, sold, harassed, hunted or harmed in any way. The law also protects vital breeding and behavioral activities of animals on the list.