The Endangered Species Act petitioning process: Successes and failures

C. V. Wilcox, University of California, Santa Cruz
B. D. Elderd, University of California, Santa Cruz


The Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been a legislative tool whose critics have derided its misuse and proponents have sought to strengthen its implementation. To determine whether the ESA is ESA is being used to protect species rather than to preserve land, and if the subsequent listing is influenced by petitioner affiliation, we conducted a content analysis of listing petitions. We found that most petitions attempted to list a single species versus several species, which indicates that these petitions were concentrating on species-specific, not habitat-based, issues. Once petitioned for listing, government agencies did not bias the listing of species by taxa. However, species proposed by petitioners with a national geographic focus had a greater likelihood of being listed as compared to other petitions. This difference in effecliveness indicates listing may be influenced by petition quality or petitioner's political skill and should be explored further.