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Wildlife Day at Capitols in the Great Lakes

On April 11, 2018 hundreds of wildlife advocates in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota gathered in solidarity at their state capitols to meet with lawmakers and speak for wolves and wildlife in the Great Lakes region!

The day was filled positive action for wolves and wildlife, where nearly one hundred supporters rallied at the State Capitol buildings in Madison and Lansing. Legislators met with their constituents who urged them to protect the wolf for future generations by supporting wildlife-friendly legislation. (We joined in solidarity with our friends in Minnesota who also held a day of action for wolves!)

Constituents were vital in persuading legislators that wildlife belongs to everyone and that keystone species, like wolves, need special consideration and protections. Wildlife Day was an opportunity to bring together ethical hunters, non-consumptive users, scientists, silent sports enthusiasts, farmers, tribal members and anyone who truly cares about wildlife as a unified yet, diverse voice for policy.

HOWLS OF THANKS to Lush Cosmetics, The Humane Society of the United States, Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, Songbird Protection Coalition, Dr. Adrian Treves, Cait Irwin and ALL the volunteers who helped make this day happen…we could not have done it without all of YOU!!!

While Wildlife Day was a step in the right direction, all Wisconsin residents are still needed to continue speaking out for our wolves. In the meantime, please continue to submit your Letters to the Editor, and write/call your state senators, representatives urging them to keep our wolves and wildlife protected.Learn more on the FoWWW Take Action page.

From Endangered Species Scientist to Endangered Species Writer

This is a post by Dr. Jan Randall, Endangered Species Coalition Board of Directors Member and Scientific Advisory Board Chair. Dr. Randall is the author of the recently released book, Endangered Species: A Reference Handbook.


I have always considered nature an essential part of my life. The diversity of biological systems fascinates me. It did not take me long, therefore, to agree to write a book on endangered species when contacted by ABC-CLIO press for a book to be included in their Contemporary World Issues Series.

My research area is animal behavior, and I spent many years as a field biologist studying the social organization and communication of desert rodents. One of my study subjects, the giant kangaroo rat, is an endangered species that lost most of its native habitat to agriculture and today occupies only about 2 percent of its former range in California. Kangaroo rats hop on their hind legs, thus the name. The giant kangaroo rat is a keystone species, which means other species in the food chain depend on its presence either as prey (endangered San Joaquin kit foxes love to snack on kangaroo rats) and from contributions to the habitat. Its last refuge, the Carrizo Plain National Monument, is one of the areas designated for review for possible size reduction or elimination by the Trump administration.  

Giant Kangaroo Rat

Scientists who study animal behavior often end up involved in conservation of the species they study. It is difficult to observe behavior of animals for hours on end and not appreciate their value both aesthetically and biologically. For example, Jane Goodall devoted her life to conservation after her initial studies of chimpanzee behavior. She notes: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” I hope this book makes a difference.

I began down this road of thinking about endangered species as a graduate student at the University of Washington almost 50 years ago. Instead of the advanced ecology class, the professor carted us off to a public hearing on DDT. The what hearings? I had no idea that DDT was killing predatory birds by transfer up in the food chain to cause their egg shells to be too thin to support life of the chicks. Populations of these birds, including our national symbol the bald eagle, had declined at a disturbing rate. Eventually these birds became protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), DDT was prohibited for use in the United States, and the bird populations began to recover.

In the meantime, while the bald eagle, brown pelican, and peregrine falcon were recovering other species were declining and disappearing in front of my very eyes. In college, I worked for two summers at Redfish Lake in Stanley Basin, Idaho. The lake earned its name from the red bodies of thousands of sockeye salmon that migrated there from the Pacific Ocean to spawn. I was in awe of these teaming bodies of fish thrashing around in the water, but in just a couple of decades the fish disappeared and were listed as endangered in 1991 under the ESA. The eight dams constructed on the Columbia and Snake rivers were just too much for the salmon to navigate. Today the sockeye salmon population is on “life support” and sustained via hatchery breeding. A better, more natural solution would be to remove the dams on the lower Snake River to allow the salmon to renew their natural cycle.

Today species survival is threatened more than ever by government leaders who do not understand biodiversity and seem to care little about endangered species and the environment. Policies are being established that threaten habitats and decrease the sizes of national monuments. Climate change is no longer of concern. Species are being removed from the endangered species list before scientists say they are ready: grizzly bears and gray wolves. In a move to weaken protection of imperiled species, the Department of Interior recently proposed a rule to withhold protections for any species listed as “threatened.”

As a biologist, I am fully aware that everything is connected in a web of life, and for every species that becomes threatened and endangered the balance of the planet’s ecosystems may lose a link. I wanted readers of the book to understand the importance of these connections, how these connections are threatened, and to become inspired to join the fight to save endangered species and to protect the ESA from efforts to weaken it.

I welcomed the opportunity to use my scientific training, background in biology, and my passion for living creatures to write a comprehensive treatment of the topic. We must be prepared to take action, and my book is one of the tools that can be used for this purpose.

 

And the winners are…

We are very happy to announce that the esteemed panel of judges has completed the very difficult task of selecting grade category and grand prize winners in the 2018 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest.

The Grand Prize Winning Entry is Hawksbill Sea Turtle by Brandon Xie:

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

The First Place entry is Humpback Whale by Erin Dong:

Humpback Whale

The Grade K-2 category winning entry is Blue-tailed Skink by Sean Lam:

Blue-tailed Skink

The Grade 3-5 category winning entry is Florida Panther by Kyle Xu:

Florida Panther

The Grade 6-8 category winning entry is Kangaroo Rats by Maggie Wu:

Kangaroo Rat

The Grade 9-12 category winning entry is Green Sea Turtle by Colin Phillips:

Green Sea Turtle

We are exceptionally grateful to every student that took part in this year’s contest. More than 1,500 entries were submitted and represented a diverse selection of threatened, endangered, or recovered species. We hope that the experience of researching these species and creating the art was enriching for all involved.

You can see all 40 of the semifinalist entries here.

Thank you and congratulations to all who took part!

Semi-finalists Chosen in Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

The 2018 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest was an amazing success with more than 1,500 entries from students around the United States. Thank you to everyone who entered! 

A panel of judges made up of educators and art instructors recently undertook the very difficult process of narrowing all of the entries down to just 40 entries (10 for each grade category). These semi-finalist entries are below!

 

2018 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest Semifinalists

You can view them by grade category here:

Grades K-2

Grades 3-5

Grades 6-8

Grades 9-12

We anticipate the judges of the final winners and the grand prize winner will have their decision ready for announcement by the 12th of April. 

Thank you once again to all who participated in this year’s contest! We hope it was enriching to learn about these imperiled or recovered species and are awestruck by the artistic submissions.

Because #LoboWeek: 20th Anniversary Edition!

There’s never been a time in my life when wolves weren’t my favorite animal.  I remember looking at a book about wolves when I was little. My dad and I were sitting in the car in my grandma’s driveway, waiting for my brother to jump in. I was looking at a picture of a snarling wolf.  I’d bet his teeth were as big as I was at that time. But I remember turning to my dad and proclaiming that I knew I could calm the wolf. Despite that wolf’s scary demeanor, I loved him and my 6-year-old imagination knew he would love me, too.  Well, fast forward a bit. Of course, one should never approach a wolf, snarling or not, for the wolf’s safety and one’s own (although a healthy wolf hasn’t killed a human in the lower 48 states in at least hundred years, but still don’t), but my point is that I really loved wolves when I was little. And still do.

So, you’ll understand the gravity of the situation when I tell you this secret: I had never heard of the Mexican gray wolf until a couple years ago.  Despite having loved wolves since I was little and having been inspired to pursue an environmental career in order to protect wildlife and wild places, still, the Mexican wolf never crossed my desk. So, you’ll forgive me if I, as someone who has dedicated her career to protecting wildlife both directly and indirectly, assume that maybe you’ve never heard of the Mexican gray wolf, either.  For this reason, I’m going to start from the beginning.

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi, also commonly referred to as the “lobo”) is the rarest and most distinct subspecies of gray wolf in the world.  Nearly eradicated in the first half of the 20th century after decades of federally-funded persecution and bounty hunting, the wolf was listed, thankfully, under the Endangered Species Act in 1976.  From just seven remaining individuals, the US Fish and Wildlife Service began a captive breeding program to save the species from extinction. On March 29, 1998, the first individuals were released into the wilds of southern New Mexico and Arizona.  After more than 30 years of absence, the smallest subspecies of gray wolf returned home to the mountains of the Southwest.

It’s been 20 years since the lobo came home.  To commemorate that day in 1998, we’re celebrating this once in a lifetime anniversary. Knowing that they’re out there right this moment, doing their wolf thing, probably raising new Spring pups, gives me hope for the future of wildlife and humans.  It’s been difficult for modern people to learn how to live in a natural world, but knowing that we’re collectively working toward a society that respects and honors the wolf’s place in the wild gives me hope that we’ll one day get there. But for now, let me tell you what’s currently standing in the way.

At last count, the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are 114 in the lobos wild. That’s not much, especially considering the 2017 estimate was 113 wolves, so their population is growing extremely slow.  Human-caused mortality, which includes poaching and vehicle strikes, is their number one cause of death. And since all lobos are descended from just seven individuals, genetic diversity is also a grave concern.  Experts believe that each wolf in the wild is as related to one another as sister and brother. This causes big problems like small litters and genetic abnormalities. And their ability to adapt to changing conditions is also limited, as a result.  

Another threat standing in the way of Mexican wolf recovery is, ironically, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan. The plan states that the delisting process for the imperiled wolf can begin when a population goal of just 320 individuals in the US and 200 in Mexico is reached- far below the 750 wolf population goal recommended by the Service’s own scientific advisory team.  The plan also fails to consider the need for distinct, but connected, populations of wolves. Those same scientists suggested there be three separate populations in New Mexico and Arizona- one in the southern portion of the two states, one in the Grand Canyon area in Arizona, and another in northern New Mexico.  This recommendation was largely ignored and the current plan only requires two populations, one in the US with the other in Mexico.

The good news is that multiple groups, including Wildlands Network, WildEarth Guardians, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, Western Environmental Law Center, and Western Watersheds Project, are suing the Service over the recovery plan, which they say violates the Endangered Species Act.

“Yet, hope remains while company is true” (for my fellow LOTR fans). And that’s why we need you! This Lobo Week, take the time to celebrate their continued recovery, educate yourself and others about their plight, and tell your decision-makers that you support the full recovery of the Mexican gray wolf to preserve our natural heritage for future generations to come!

Happy Lobo Week, y’all!

U.S. Congress Rejects More than a Dozen Provisions to Weaken the Endangered Species Act

Washington, D.C. –  Today the House of Representatives voted and passed an Omnibus appropriations bill that largely rejected new policy provisions or amendments that would have weakened the Endangered Species Act. The bill’s release follows weeks of intense pressure from conservation groups on behalf of imperiled wildlife and late-night negotiations in the House and Senate. 

The working draft of the FY 2018 House and Senate Interior/EPA appropriations bills had included 12 riders that would have undermined the Endangered Species Act, one of our nation’s most successful and popular laws. The law is credited with saving our national symbol, the bald eagle, from extinction along with numerous other species, including the American alligator, humpback whale, and the brown pelican. 

The riders included attacks on protections for particular species. They also targeted key portions of the overall Endangered Species Act including interagency consultation requirements and citizen enforcement of the Act. Another rider would have not only congressionally delisted the Great Lakes and Wyoming wolves, but it would have also blocked any future lawsuits, even if these wolves once again become gravely imperiled.   

“Members of Congress acted on behalf of our kids, grandkids and great-grandkids by voting to protect endangered species and the places they call home. They know the Endangered Species Act works, and they rejected many of the original efforts to undermine this safety net for plants and wildlife on the brink of extinction,” stated Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition.

Dozens of groups, including the Endangered Species Coalition, and their supporters, maintained a steady drumbeat targeting lawmakers on Capitol Hill to support the Endangered Species Act. The groups called on Congress to oppose any policy riders that would weaken protections for endangered species and their habitat. Thousands of voters reached out to Congress to reinforce this message and express their deep support for wildlife.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was a landmark conservation law that passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support (92-0 in the Senate, and 394-4 in the House). Polling over the past decade indicates this Act maintains strong, bipartisan, public support even today.

More than 1,300 imperiled species of plants, fish and wildlife in the United States have been protected by the Endangered Species Act, and only ten have gone extinct, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (Most of those were already extinct or functionally extinct by the time they were put on the list.) Additionally, a 2012 study found that 90 percent of protected species are recovering at the pace expected in their scientific recovery plans. 

The spending bill was not a perfect piece of legislation, according to conservationists. It forbid the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing sage grouse and partially overturned a court decision pertaining to agency consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  In addition, it appropriated funds for the border wall, which would impact wildlife and humans.

“We did not get everything that we wanted for wildlife.  But there is no question that the U.S. Congress listened to the desires of their constituents, stripped many of the worst anti-wildlife provisions out of the bill and defended the Endangered Species Act.  It should be clear by now that the Act not only protects species, but it is also critical to protecting human health and wellbeing,” stated Huta.

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The Endangered Species Coalition is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to stop the human-caused extinction of our nation’s at-risk species, to protect and restore their habitats, and to guide these fragile populations along the road to recovery.  The Endangered Species Coalition works to safeguard and strengthen the Endangered Species Act, a law that enables every citizen to act on behalf of threatened and endangered wildlife—animals, fish, plants, and insects—and the wild places they call home.

“Wolf” Delivers Letter from Businesses to U.S. Lawmakers Opposing Anti-wildlife Appropriations Riders

Conservation Groups Aim to Thwart Congressional Attack on Endangered Species

Washington, DC – Representatives of conservation groups on Wednesday–along with Journey, the wolf mascot –delivered to lawmakers on Capitol Hill a letter opposing efforts to weaken protections for imperiled wildlife. The letter, which remains open, has already been signed by approximately 80 businesses expressing support for the Endangered Species Act and opposition to “any bill that would weaken protections for endangered species and their habitat.”

This photo and others available here for media use.

The letter delivery comes as lawmakers debate several, must-pass appropriations bills for 2018. A few specific policy riders that weaken the Endangered Species Act and block or remove protections for imperiled wildlife. A rider that would not only congressionally delist the Great Lakes and Wyoming wolves, but would also block any future lawsuits, even if these wolves once again become gravely imperiled, is among one of the most controversial proposals (House Interior Sec 116, Senate Interior Sec 120).

The letter reads, in part, “As American business owners, we encourage you to strongly support the Endangered Species Act. The Act has been successful in protecting the bald eagle, American alligator, Pacific salmon, humpback whale, brown pelican, as well as many other species. It also works to protect endangered species’ habitat, such as the mountains, river valleys, grasslands, wetlands, deserts, coastal beaches and other open spaces that we enjoy.”

The business letter follows the delivery of letters from 241 conservation groups, 31 U.S. Senators, and 104 U.S. Representatives – all opposing the inclusion of anti-wildlife riders on appropriations bills.

Under consideration in the FY 2018 House and Senate Interior/EPA appropriations bills are 12 riders that would undermine the Endangered Species Act, one of our nation’s most successful, popular laws and the law that saved our national symbol, the bald eagle, from extinction. These riders include attacks on protections for particular species including the greater sage grouse (House Interior Sec 113, Senate Interior Sec 114), the lesser prairie chicken (Senate Interior Sec 121), and potentially hundreds of other species (House Interior Sec 458). These riders also target key portions of the overall Endangered Species Act including interagency consultation requirements (Senate Interior Sec 431) and citizen enforcement of the Act (House Interior Sec 461), which limits attorney fees for successful plaintiffs in cases brought under the Endangered Species Act and other core environmental laws.

“Americans know that we have a responsibility to our kids, grandkids and great-grandkids to protect endangered species and the places they call home. They know the Endangered Species Act works, and they are incredibly worried that politicians in Congress are seeking to undermine this safety net for plants and wildlife on the brink of extinction,” stated Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was a landmark conservation law that passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support (92-0 in the Senate, and 394-4 in the House). Although some members of Congress are now seeking to weaken this safety net for fish, plants and wildlife on the brink of extinction, recent polling indicates that the law maintains strong, bipartisan, public support even today.

More than 1,300 imperiled species of plants, fish and wildlife in the United States have been protected by the Endangered Species Act, and only ten have gone extinct, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Additionally, a 2012 study found that 90 percent of protected species are recovering at the pace expected in their scientific recovery plans.

“Not only is the Endangered Species Act our safety net for wildlife, plants, and fish, but it can also protect species critical to human health and wellbeing, such as bees and other pollinators,” said Huta. “Furthermore, the Act’s protection of biodiversity is critical for vulnerable communities which are often on the frontlines of environmental destruction and have the most to lose.”

 

The Economic Cost of a Great Lakes Wolves Delisting Rider

By Melissa Smith and Lia Cheek

Imagine Wisconsin losing a potential 168,000 jobs and $17.9 billion in consumer spending.  If the policy “rider” that aims to de-list Great Lakes wolves is included in Congress’s budget bill,  Wisconsin could see a severe drop in these numbers. Wolves are vital to our economy in both direct and indirect ways.

If wolves are delisted by this rider, there is nothing to stop the Great Lakes from returning to the aggressive state management plans and broad wolf hunting seasons that existed in 2012-2014, resulting in the death of 1521 wolves in two years, nearly half of the population. Losing wolves at this dangerous rate would diminish the economic profits from outdoor recreationists in MN, WI and MI, weaken already fragile wolf populations, and destabilize the ecosystem as a whole.  The passing of two state referendums in MI, and a 2014 survey by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources shows that the public does not support the hunting of wolves, and value the important ecological and economic role that wolves play.

Having enough wolves on the landscape to fulfill their biological role in the Western Great Lakes makes good financial sense. Wolves provide crucial economic and tourism dollars, especially as the revenue generated by hunting drastically declines due to lack of public interest in the pastime.  Wolves also provide important ecological benefits which cost millions when Governments attempt to take them on, chronic wasting disease is an example. Studies show that wolves act as a firewall against the spread of chronic wasting disease, which has had a devastating economic impact in nearly all counties of  Wisconsin. In 2001 – 2006 the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources spent $26.8 million in attempts to manage CWD outbreaks, efforts which the Wisconsin government admits have not been effective.   Wolves effectively reduce densities of wild white-tailed deer, which in turn protects commercial forestry operations and agriculture crops by reducing overbrowsing. In 2015,  Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource spent $754,592 on their damage abatement program for white-tailed deer, a job which wolves do for free.  By reducing deer densities wolves also help to mitigate the risk of vehicle-deer collisions  In 2015, Minnesota experienced 2,141 deer related collisions, at a National average of $3,995 in claims per collision, not to mention lives lost, Minnesota has much to gain by protecting their wolf population. In short, wolves can benefit agriculture, tourism, public safety, forest and water quality, and ecosystem health.

Wolves are a strong lure for tourists at Isle Royale National Park, in the Boundary Waters region of Minnesota, Voyageurs National Park and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northern Wisconsin. There are thousands of tourists who relish the idea of spotting a wild wolf or just want to feel the effects of an intact, wild ecosystem by walking in habitats that wolves also use. A true symbol of wilderness, wolves bring tourists who in turn bring economic activity to rural regions, regions devastated by loss of jobs.


Livestock guardian dogs and fences are more than 99% effective and also add to reducing livestock losses of 102 million dollars per year, mostly by coyote and bear. By allowing for a near repeated historical extinction of wolves in Wisconsin, in which hunting actually increases livestock losses, these breeders and ethical producers stand to lose a lot financially too. And if producers aren’t using non-lethal abatement for wolves, we will lose grants for farmers.  You can expect that these farmers, willing to work with nature, will have more losses. And not just by wolves.

The science, the public and the money all point to the fact that wolves are a valuable resource for our ecosystems and our economies.  The total value of wolves in incalculable, but their presence saves local governments millions by managing overabundant deer and their negative economic impacts, and at the same time, drives significant income and jobs in tourism, particularly in rural areas where they are sorely needed.   Lawmakers should not cripple The Great Lakes and their potential for real economic prosperity by legislatively delisting wolves.

Please take action to oppose this legislative delisting here.

The Wisdom of Wolves

On March 6th, Jim and Jamie Dutcher released their new book, The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack (published by National Geographic). This book could not be more welcome, both as inspiration and educational tool, at this time of great uncertainty for America’s wolves.

Credit National Geographic

The Dutchers achieved a previously-unimaginable level of access to, and understanding of, three generations of wolves over a six-year period. They shared a 25-acre enclosure on U.S. Forest Service land on the edge of the Idaho wilderness with what started as two litters of wolves and grew into the Sawtooth Pack.

While observing the Sawtooth Pack, the Dutchers grew to understand how they work together and how that pack forms a society very similar to our own. The Sawtooth Pack wolves collaborated in all facets of their existence. From pup rearing to “rallies” where the pack celebrated and bonded together, each of the wolves had a role.

From the vantage point of the yurt they slept and ate in, and out among the wolves as they went about their day to day experiences, the Dutchers were able to observe and capture the emotional lives of the members of the Sawtooth Pack and illustrate that great depth and complexity. The social order of the pack guided many of these interactions, but the Dutchers sometimes observed endearing and unexpected departures from that hierarchy.

Credit National Geographic

On one such occasion, the alpha, Kamots, allowed his brother Lakota (who was the pack’s lowest ranking member, or omega), to catch and claim victory over him in a game of tag. This ability to empathize and to act on that empathy to provide benefit to another is a theme that surfaces repeatedly in the book and one that makes wolves somewhat unique and a reflection of the best elements of humanity.

On another occasion, the Sawtooth Pack mourned the loss of Motaki, sister to Kamots and Lakota. She had died of wounds likely attained through an encounter with a mountain lion that had entered the camp. The wolves grieved her loss for weeks following her death culminating in a memorial when they came across the site of her death. The wolves reacted to this space by lowering their heads and generally displaying timidity in an apparent and amazing recognition of the loss that their pack had suffered there.

Credit National Geographic

The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack illustrates through the telling of tales like these and others the deep, intricate bonds that wolves form and the costs that we take upon them through our actions. The Sawtooth Pack, like wild wolf packs today, was a society. It was comprised of individual members that the rest of the pack relied on. Losing a member can have devastating impacts on the pack and alter its structure completely.  

We highly recommend The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack and hope that its message may foster a greater acceptance of wolves in the United States and policies that can advance that goal.

One of the most critical threats facing wolves today is the potential passage of legislation that would legislatively strip them of protections in the Great Lakes. Please speak out against this legislation here.

Climate Change is Already Harming Imperiled Wildlife

Today we are facing yet another bomb cyclone. We won’t know the impact it has had to wildlife until it is over.

In early January, one of the worst cold snaps in years hit Florida. Temperatures lingered around freezing in Brevard County, which is home to many Florida manatees. In a canal in Satellite Beach, nature fought back against the cold – in the form of hundreds of Florida manatees cuddling together for warmth. Manatees need warm temperatures and can go into shock or die if water temperatures drop below 68 degrees for extended periods of time. With air temps in the 30s, the manatees were in trouble.

The Florida manatee was first listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1991.  There were an estimated 1,267 manatees in Florida at the time. In 2016, they were downlisted to “threatened” status and it is believed there are 6,300 manatees in Florida today.  

This should be a great success story and attributed to: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its use of sound science; the public and its increased concern for manatees as they were educated regarding their plight; and activists that demand the ESA stay strong and be implemented robustly.

Unfortunately, the Florida manatee faces new threats which may plummet their populations again. Human activities landed manatees in crisis in the first place, with boat strikes still a leading cause of death but now manatees also face deadly algal blooms that destroy their food and extreme weather caused by climate change.

Extreme weather events are becoming more common and more stressful. In 2017, Florida experienced powerful hurricanes, and just this past January – extreme cold. Scientists say the January winter “dipole” is a system that warms the West and freezes the East.  It tends to happen when a ridge of high pressure sets up over the western United States, even as a low-pressure trough sets up over the east. Research suggests that the dipole is becoming more common in concert with greenhouse gas emissions. As the scientists do their research, the “bomb cyclones” could intensify going forward.

What we know is that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing climate change, which causes extreme weather occurrences and extreme weather puts Florida manatees in jeopardy.

If you want to help Florida manatees, call your local, state, and federal lawmakers and tell them to protect the Endangered Species Act and introduce laws to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions now. Tell them this is a vitally important issue to maintain constituent support. And consider joining the Endangered Species Coalition to help us further efforts to protect the Endangered Species Act and the wildlife that depends on it.

For more information on Florida manatee deaths:  http://myfwc.com/media/4396361/January.pdf