Support for the U.S. Endangered Species Act over time and space: Controversial species do not weaken public support for protective legislation

Document Type

Letter to the Editor

Publication Date



© 2018 The Authors. Conservation Letters published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. We used data from a 2014 survey (n = 1,287) of U.S. residents and recent polls to assess how public support for the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) changed over time, and whether protecting controversial species affects support for the law. We assessed support for the ESA, trust in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and attitudes toward wolves across three regions with different experiences in conserving gray wolves through the ESA. We found: (a) ∼4 in 5 Americans support the ESA, whereas ∼1 in 10 oppose; (b) support for the ESA remained stable over the past two decades; (c) strong majorities (> 68%) of individuals identifying with 8 special interest types support the ESA; and (d) no differences in support for the ESA, attitudes toward wolves, or trust in the FWS across regions. Results suggest that protecting species—even controversial predators—does not weaken support for protective legislation.

Publication Title

Conservation Letters