The Endangered Species Act will be 40 years old Saturday, and in Arizona, its implementation has helped save seven animal species from extinction.

The law represents a time when America first realized the importance of balancing an ecosystem.

"The Endangered Species Act is the living embodiment of the phrase, 'The first precaution of intelligent tinkering is to save every cog and wheel,'" said U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Gavin Shire.

The seven Arizona species protected under the law are among 110 animal species and subspecies that have seen improvement in since the law was enacted.

Two, the American peregrine falcon and the bald eagle, have been removed from the list after making significant improvement.

Two more, the Apache and Gila trout, have been downgraded from endangered to threatened.

Perhaps the most notable of recoveries in Arizona comes from animals still on the endangered list. The black-footed ferret, California condor and Mexican gray wolf. All were extinct in the wild as recently as the 1980s.

Breeding populations of each are now sustaining themselves in the state.

"The population of California condors has gone from strength to strength," said Fish and Wildlife's Schire, "and that's a really good example of how we have been able to use the Endangered Species Act to step in at the last moment and save a species from extinction."

The condor, ferret, and Mexican gray wolf will most likely stay on the endangered list for some years yet. The animal that is most recovered of the three is the ferret, and it is only halfway to its desired population level.

The other two have been the subject of recent debates on how to protect an endangered species.

The Mexican gray wolf will likely remain the only classified subspecies of gray wolf thanks to recovery efforts, but management of the animal's experimental population has caught the attention of environmentalist and ranchers whose livestock are being killed by the wolf.

California took the lead in protecting the California condor recently by banning lead ammunition in the condor's range. It also flies in Arizona and Utah, but neither has such a ban, although Arizona Game and Fish has started a voluntary lead ammo exchange program.