Golden eagles are not considered federally threatened or endangered, but they are protected under other federal laws, Ashley Spratt, a USFWS public affairs officer, told Discovery News.
With tremendous care, 44 of them were live-captured and relocated from the northern Channel Islands, which Menard said "effectively put an end to predation on island foxes" and rapidly raised the foxes' survival rate on all three islands.
The NPS, USFWS, TNC, and more than 300 stakeholders, including scientific experts from academia, state and local governments, private and non-profit organizations (including the Friends of the Island Fox, the Institute for Wildlife Studies and the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy) all worked together to identify and address the threats to the island fox, Spratt said.
There is a remaining subspecies that could not be delisted: the Santa Catalina Island fox. Disease still poses risk, largely due to the influx of people and other animals between the mainland and the island, Spratt said.
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As for the Obama Administration's hand in saving the foxes and other threatened animals, each presidency strongly affects funding, leadership and conservation strategies.
"The increased emphasis of the current administration on recovery and partnerships has definitely benefited imperiled species," Ashe said.
A success of the Obama Administration has been in leading efforts to work with partners, such as states, private landowners and industry, to proactively conserve species so that they don't require federal protections in the first place.
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Despite such successes, the ESA has its share of critics. A study in the September issue of the journal Biological Conservation, for example, found that many species are encountering much longer wait times before receiving an endangered designation.
"While the law lays out a process time of two years for a species to be listed, what we found is that, in practice, it takes, on average, 12.1 years," said co-author Emily Puckett, who recently received her doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia. "Some species moved through the process in six months but some species, including many flowering plants, took 38 years to be listed -- almost the entire history of the ESA."
Such timing can have major consequences. For example, the island night lizard was listed in 1.19 years, whereas the prairie fringed orchid took 14.7 years to be listed. The lizard has since recovered and has been removed from endangered status; the orchid is still considered threatened.
Some conservationists also believe that the ESA has dangerous loopholes. Under what is known as the "McKittrick Policy," for example, the U.S. Department of Justice does not prosecute individuals who have killed endangered animals protected by the ESA unless it can prove that the person specifically intended to kill an endangered species.
Claims -- valid or not -- of "mistaken identity" are common, according to organizations such as Mexicanwolves.org and Wild Earth Guardians.
In addition to these kinds of ESA problems, the next administration will certainly have its hands full. According to Brian Hires of the USFWS, some 327 species have been added to the ESA over the past eight years.
SEE PHOTOS OF RECENTLY RECOVERED ANIMALS AND PLANTS BELOW: