Roughly four out of five Americans support the act, and only one in 10 oppose it, found a survey of 1,287 Americans. Support has remained stable for the past two decades, the researchers report in the journal Conservation Letters.
“Every time the ESA is in the news, you hear about how controversial it is. But the three most recent studies show that, on average, approximately 83 percent of the public supports it, and that’s sort of the opposite of controversial,” Bruskotter said.
Survey respondents who identified with a range of eight interest groups – including hunters and property-rights advocates – were all at least 68 percent supportive, the study found. And support was consistent throughout various regions of the United States.
About 74 percent of conservatives, 77 percent of moderates and 90 percent of liberals said they supported the act.
The highest percentage of active opposition to the act was found in the property rights advocates group – 21 percent said they’re against it.
Bruskotter, an associate professor of environment and natural resources and a conservation policy expert, said he suspected the public’s impression of the Endangered Species Act might not align with the perspective of business and political interests debating its future and seeking to roll back its reach.
“Scholars, the media and others keep talking about how controversial the act is and we wanted to know whether that was really true in the population at large,” he said.