This year’s celebration of Endangered Species Day brings a renewed urgency to the fight to protect imperiled species and the critical need for the Endangered Species Act.

Endangered San Joaquin kit foxes

Today is the annual Endangered Species Day and we are excited to celebrate all the endangered species we all care so much about! But we are also profoundly anxious. If congressional leaders have their way, today could be the last time we celebrate endangered species protection.

Back in 2006, Congress officially designated the third Friday in May as national Endangered Species Day—a celebration of our nation’s wildlife and wild places and the need to protect rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals.

Whether it’s the more commonly talked about gray wolf or Florida panther or the lesser known San Joaquin kit fox or scalloped hammerhead shark, endangered species are something an overwhelming majority of Americans are committed to helping preserve and protect for future generations.

Endangered Species and the ESA

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) currently lists 1,447 animal species and 945 plant species as either “Threatened” or “Endangered” under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Put very simply, endangered species are those species that are believed to be on the brink of extinction right now and threatened species are those that are likely to be in the near future. Endangered species enjoy all the protections under the ESA, whereas threatened species sometimes get reduced protections and can be managed more flexibility under the Act.

Since its enactment in 1973, the ESA has kept our most at-risk species from the fate of extinction with a 99% success rate. And yet, in just the last session of Congress (the 114th), the ESA faced more than 130 attacks, a trend that has only continued into this session with 24 attacks since January. And now there is a concerted congressional effort to gut or repeal the astonishingly successful anti—extinction law outright.

Much like our endangered wildlife, America’s legacy of protecting and restoring these imperiled species is at a critical turning point. Mounting attacks against the ESA, the strongest and most…