This commentary originally appeared in Texas Wildlife in October 2015.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states the purpose of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. When Congress passed the ESA in 1973, it recognized that our right natural heritage is of "esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational and scientific value to our Nation and its people." The law's ultimate goal is to "recover" species so they no longer need protection under the ESA.