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Endangered Species

About the Endangered Species Protection Program

The goal of EPA's Endangered Species Protection Program (ESPP) is to carry out EPA’s responsibilities under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), without placing unnecessary burden on agriculture and other pesticide users. EPA is responsible for reviewing information and data to determine whether a pesticide product can be registered for a particular use. As part of that determination, EPA determines if listed species or their designated critical habitat may be affected by use of the product. All pesticide products that EPA determines “may affect” a listed species or its designated critical habitat may be subject to the ESPP. 

If geographically specific limitations on pesticide use are necessary to protect listed species in that area, the information is relayed through Endangered Species Protection Bulletins.

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The Endangered Species Act

The ESA is intended to protect and promote the recovery of species that are in danger of becoming extinct. Threats to a species from habitat destruction, pollution, over-harvesting, disease, predation and other natural or man-made factors must be reviewed and evaluated before an animal or plant can be placed on the federal endangered or threatened species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service, collectively known as the Services, administer the ESA.

However, the ESA requires that all federal agencies, including EPA, make sure that any action they authorize, fund or carry out won’t jeopardize the existence of listed species or “destroy or adversely modify” any designated critical habitat for that species. The role EPA has in implementing the ESA is to ensure that the use of pesticides is not likely to jeopardize listed species or destroy or adversely modify their critical habitat when we register pesticides. 

View information about endangered species activities at the:

History of the Endangered Species Protection Program

EPA established the ESPP in 1988 to meet its obligations under the ESA. The original ESPP was not an enforceable program but relied on cooperation between the Services, EPA, states, tribes and pesticide users. At that time, the program provided geographically specific pesticide use limitations in the form of voluntary county bulletins in areas of concern based on Biological Opinions issued from the Services.  A Biological Opinion is a document providing the Services' assessment and recommendations for steps that EPA should take, if any, to reduce or eliminate potential risk to the species. 

In December 2002, EPA published a proposed approach for field implementation of the ESPP for public comment. EPA received comments from many stakeholders including industry, the grower community, government entities and public interest groups. After reviewing and considering these comments, EPA published its final approach to field implementation of the ESPP on November 2, 2005. As stated in the final notice, when EPA determines that use limitations are necessary to protect listed species, EPA intends to make such limitations enforceable under FIFRA.

Field Implementation

When EPA determines that use limitations are necessary to ensure that legal use of a pesticide will not harm listed species or their critical habitat, we may seek to change the terms of the pesticide registration to establish either generic or geographically specific pesticide use limitations. 

When geographically specific use limitations are necessary, Bulletins are developed to put the necessary mitigations into place. These mitigations are specific to the area(s) where the species is exposed to the pesticide(s) in question. Pesticide labels refer the pesticide user to Bulletins Live! Two. Bulletins Live! Two contains enforceable use limitations for a pesticide to ensure its use will not jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or adversely modify designated critical habitat. Read more about pesticide restrictions related to endangered species.

Bulletins show:

  • The name of the pesticide active ingredient(s) and/or product(s), depending on what the user searches for, with pesticide limitations that may affect the listed species,
  • The geographically specific pesticide use limitation(s) necessary to protect listed species or designated critical habitat.
  • A map of the user-selected area of interest.
  • The effective/enforceable date (month and year) of the Bulletin.

View the Bulletins. Those without Internet access may check availability and applicability of Bulletins by calling (844) 447-3813.

Bulletins will be effective and enforceable under FIFRA as part of the product label. Once the pesticide product label refers to Bulletins, pesticide users may check Bulletins Live! Two for Bulletin availability up to six months before applying a pesticide.

Pesticide users who fail to follow label provisions or Bulletins applicable to their pesticide application, whether that failure results in harm to a listed species or not, will be subject to enforcement under the misuse provisions of FIFRA section 12(a)(2)(G). Unauthorized take of listed species will subject the user to enforcement under the ESA:

  • EPA is responsible for enforcement actions under FIFRA.
  • The Services are responsible for enforcement of the ESA.

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Role of the Services

The Services may be involved in EPA’s processes to protect listed species and designated critical habitat by:

  • Consulting, either formally or informally, with EPA on specific endangered species concerns.
  • Issuing Biological Opinions.

For details on how EPA evaluates the potential risks from pesticides to listed species and consults with the Services, see Endangered Species Risk Assessment Process.

Role of States and Tribes 

States and tribes are integral to the success of the ESPP. Local, state and tribal circumstances  influence the effectiveness of different approaches to listed species protection. Because of this, local, state and tribal governments will be given specific opportunities for Bulletin review, including review of maps and use limitations. States and tribes may also assist in determining the effectiveness of the ESPP via enforcement and inspection activity. 

States and tribes may propose plans to EPA to review and then adopt them. EPA determines that measures contained in the proposed plan are appropriate for the protection of the listed species and can be implemented by the generic label statement and Bulletins. 

Role of the Public

EPA intends the ESPP to be flexible and to modify it as necessary to achieve the goals of protecting listed species while minimizing the impact on pesticide users. The ongoing program will incorporate public participation within existing processes of registration and registration review according to the stakeholder input document released by EPA and the Services in March 2013. View Enhancing Stakeholder Input in the Pesticide Registration Review and ESA Consultation Processes and Development of Economically and Technologically Feasible Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives - March 19, 2013.

In general, there are four major phases during registration review that provide opportunity for public input:

  1. Docket opening.
  2. Between docket opening and the Final Work Plan.
  3. At the Preliminary Risk Assessment stage.
  4. At the final risk assessment and the proposed decision stage.

See more information on the registration review program.

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