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Seattle Photo Exhibition Shows Species At Risk

A pod of Southern Resident Killer Whales travels together against the backdrop of the setting sun in the San Juan Islands, Washington. A Mountain Caribou gazes between snow covered trees, one animal of the eleven total individual caribou remaining in the United States. A cryptic Northern Spotted Owl peers out from an old growth forest nest cavity.

Image credit: Chris Huss, Into the Sunset

Each of these regionally iconic species share a common thread: all are listed as threatened or endangered. The stories and images of these and other irreplaceable species are featured in a new, travelling visual art exhibition by the Endangered Species Coalition – Our Vanishing Future: Photographs and Illustrations. Photographer and professional tracker David Moskowitz, in collaboration with ESC, invited the participation of other renown wildlife photographers to present work highlighting significant North American plants and animals. These images, in combination with illustrations by the winners of the 2017 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest were presented at an initial show at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, WA.

Taking in the photographic work of Thomas D. Mangelsen at the exhibition opening

The show opening featured artist talks by photographer Paul Bannick and Chris Huss. Each artist shared powerful insights about their photographic careers and the power of images to educate and increase awareness of the importance of wildlife conservation.

Photographer Paul Bannick speaks about North American owls at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, WA

The goal of the exhibition is to raise awareness of the scope of threats facing our best-known animal and plant species in the United States. Artists participating in the show provided statements about these species, educating audiences about their unique habits and encouraging action in support of conservation. Opportunities to take immediate action at the show opening included writing postcards to congressional representatives to demonstrate enduring support for the Endangered Species Act. You can take action by signing our petition in defense of the Act.

Show attendees take action for endangered species

As the show develops, ESC is excited to bring these impactful images to other locations and to engage new audiences in conservation issues and actions. For additional information about the species highlighted in the exhibition, visit our Vanishing campaign.

 

Links:

2017 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

Wildlife Photographers featured in Our Vanishing Future: Photographs and Illustrations

April Bencze
www.aprilbenczewildlife.com

Paul Bannick
www.paulbannick.com

Kerri Farley
www.NewRiverNature.com 

Michael Forsberg
www.michaelforsberg.com

Steven Gnam
www.gnam.photo

Chris Huss
www.chrishuss.com

Thomas D. Mangelsen
www.mangelsen.com

David Moskowitz
www.davidmoskowitz.net

Dave Showalter
www.daveshowalter.com

Save our Endangered Salmon and Orcas: Join us Sept. 8-9 for Free the Snake Flotilla!

For far too long, the four outdated and costly dams in the lower Snake River have pushed our wild salmon and Southern Resident Orcas to the brink of extinction. 28 Pacific salmon stocks are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The status quo has already cost taxpayers more than $16 billion without recovering a single endangered salmon population. Furthermore, our Southern Resident Orcas only eat salmon, and new research has discovered that Washington’s Southern Resident Orcas are starving on our watch- with two-thirds of Southern Resident Orca pregnancies failing due to insufficient food. The Southern Resident Orcas are not only one of the most endangered species in Washington state; they’re also one of the most endangered animals in the world. We can’t restore this highly endangered population of orcas without restoring the salmon. Their fates are intertwined.

It’s long past time we urge our elected leaders to take swift and serious action to chart a path toward true recovery and a brighter future for our fishing, tribal and rural communities — and of course, our iconic wild salmon and Southern Resident Orcas.

Last year more than 400 people from throughout the Pacific Northwest came together in support of the return of a free-flowing lower Snake River. Join a growing movement on September 8 and 9 at Chief Timothy Park in Clarkston, Washington as we take to the water with one clear message: Free the Snake River! Bring your kayak, canoe, jetboat, dory, raft, pontoon, motor boat, drift boat or other vessel and join us for an easy paddle on the lower Snake River in support of removing four costly and destructive dams to restore a free-flowing river and wild salmon and steelhead. There will also be a family-friendly event featuring music performances and speakers for those who want to join the event from land.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to restore one of the world’s greatest salmon rivers. Together we can free the Snake River, restore our wild salmon, Southern Resident Orcas, and our Northwest way of life.

For more information and to register: www.freethesnake.com

Hope to see you on the water!

Former Director of National Park Service Joins Endangered Species Coalition Board

Washington, D.C.—Robert “Bob” Stanton, former Director of the National Park Service (NPS) and former Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, has joined the board of directors of the Endangered Species Coalition, a well-regarded advocacy nonprofit working tirelessly to protect our nation’s natural heritage.

“I am indeed honored and privileged to have been given this opportunity to serve on the Endangered Species Coalition Board. The work of the Endangered Species Coalition, through its cooperative and collaborative relationships with diverse audiences, is critically important to achieving and sustaining the protection of endangered species. This work demonstrates our individual and collective responsibility for preserving the nation’s wildlife and habitat and passing on this rich natural heritage to future generations. Drawing on my 35-year career with the National Park Service. I hope, that in some small way, I might be able to contribute to the advancement of the Endangered Species Coalition’s goals and programs,” stated Stanton.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed Stanton as the 15th director of the NPS, a position in which he served until 2001. The first African American to be appointed as Director of the NPS, Stanton was introduced to conservation in 1962 while serving as a seasonal park ranger at Grand Teton National Park after his junior year in college—an opportunity made possible by then Interior Secretary Stewart Udall.

“I have had the privilege of knowing Robert for years. My father always admired Robert for his passion and hard work to conserve America’s wild places and creatures. I am looking forward to working with him on the ESC Board. His vision, piercing intellect, and gracious character will be a great enhancement to the Board,” stated long-time conservationist and board member, Lori Udall.

Stanton has joined a board that also includes decades-long forest protection activist, Michael “Brock” Evans, retired U.S. Marine Corps General Rick Kelly, and newly elected board chair, William Snape III, an assistant dean and professor at American University’s Washington College of Law and senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“Our organization literally represents the strength and breadth of America’s love for wildlife and wild habitat.  Robert Stanton clearly makes us even stronger. Now more than ever, we stand ready to protect the unbreakable trust to preserve endangered species for our children and grandchildren. Today’s politics may be complicated, but our commitment to this country’s beautiful natural heritage has never been greater,” said Snape. 

The Endangered Species Coalition is a national grassroots organizing nonprofit that focuses on keeping the Endangered Species Act and its protections for wildlife and plants strong.

Take the August Recess Challenge to Stop Extinction and Help Stop Congress from Gutting the Endangered Species Act!

The Endangered Species Act is one of the country’s most important and powerful conservation laws. It has a whopping 99 percent success record at preventing the extinction of species in its care and has helped to save iconic American wildlife such as bald eagles, peregrine falcons, gray whales, green sea turtles, and grizzly bears, just to name a few.

Alarmingly, Congress is considering multiple pieces of legislation that could radically weaken this bedrock law. Congress needs to know that Americans do not support these efforts. By taking the Stop Extinction Challenge, you can help to protect the Endangered Species Act and the plants, fish, and animals it protects.

An astounding 24 bills attacking the Endangered Species Act (ESA) have already been introduced to the House of Representatives and Senate this session. Included among them are bills to legislatively delist wolves in as many as four states, slash funding for recovery programs, and even to turn listing decisions over to politicians at the state level instead of scientists.

The August Stop Extinction Challenge will help to stop these bills and allow you to take your advocacy for wildlife to the next level. There is also a cool prize or two if you complete each step!

TAKE THE CHALLENGE

The first step is to commit to meet with your senator or representative or their staff by requesting a meeting in August.

Step 1: Visit your senator’s or representative’s local office or attend a town hall

When congressional staff members are asked, they will tell you that one of the most effective ways to help shape the outcome of legislation is to meet in person with the congressperson or their staff. While calls, emails, and tweets are very important, the act of physically voicing your concerns reigns supreme.

Members of Congress will be home in their states and districts for at least the last two weeks of August. This is our collective opportunity to stop these bills and keep the Endangered Species Act intact. Please take the first step in the August Stop Extinction Challenge and find an office or town hall and commit to go and make your voice heard!

VISIT AN OFFICE OR TOWN HALL

To prepare you for your visit or town hall, we have created materials you can download and read or bring with you to leave with the office. 

Materials to read | Materials to print 

Step 2: Call your senators

The second step in the Stop Extinction Challenge is to call your senators.

Calls into Congress have made a difference in past legislative fights. It only takes a minute of your time to make a call and can help to save endangered species. We will provide talking points and connect you with the office of your senators. You just need to pick up the phone!

CALL YOUR SENATORS

Step 3: Take action on social media

The third step is to tweet or post to your senators’ and representative’s Facebook pages.

Posting to your elected representative’s social media pages is a way to both get your message across and alert others to the need to take action. Click the button to tweet or post to your senators’ Facebook pages in just a couple clicks.. We’ll match you with your senators’ Twitter and Facebook profiles and help you write a compelling tweet or post.

TAKE ACTION ON SOCIAL MEDIA  

Step 4: Submit a letter to the editor of your local paper

Submitting a letter-to-the-editor is an almost certain way to get your elected officials’ attention. Everyone in Congress reads their local papers (or has staff read them) and when constituents write about matters before them, they take notice. Especially if you mention them by name. Click the button to go to a page where we’ll match you with your local paper and provide a draft letter for you to edit and send.

SUBMIT A LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Step 5: Tell us how it went and we’ll send you a prize!

Now that you’ve taken action online, take action offline by going to that meeting or walk-in office visit! Let us know you have scheduled a meeting here and report back on how it went here. If you complete all of the actions, we will send you an “I Stopped Extinction” tote bag as a small token of thanks for your efforts!

REPORT BACK

Overwhelming Support for the Endangered Species Act

 

For Immediate Release: July 6, 2017

Endangered Species Coalition contacts:  Leda Huta (National) lhuta@endangered.org, (202) 320-6467; Aaron Tam (Pacific NW) atam@endangered.org; Hailey Hawkins (S. Rockies) hhawkins@endangered.org, (662) 251-5804; Melissa Smith (Midwest) msmith@endangered.org, (608) 234-8860; Tara Thornton (New England) tthornton@endangered.org, (207) 504-2705; Derek Goldman, (N. Rockies) dgoldman@endangered.org, (406) 721-3218.

Showing Overwhelming Support for the Endangered Species Act, More Than 400 Conservation Groups Sign Letter Opposing Efforts to Weaken Wildlife Law

Washington, DC – Four hundred and twenty-five national, state, and local conservation groups sent a letter to the Senate and House leadership Thursday demonstrating their overwhelming support for the Endangered Species Act. Referencing the “unprecedented threat” faced by the Act in Congress, the groups strongly opposed any weakening of the Act under the guise of efforts to “modernize” or “reform” the Act. The groups—at least one from each of the 50 states—indicated that any “efforts to rewrite this law would prove disastrous for imperiled wildlife and should be strongly opposed.”

“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.

Led by the Endangered Species Coalition, the letter included many of the country’s largest conservation groups, including Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and We Act for Environmental Justice. The call to protect the nation’s rich biodiversity of plants and animals for future generations included hundreds of state and local conservation groups from every state.

Today’s letter cites the Act’s reliance on science, its provisions for citizen engagement, and its popularity with Americans across the political spectrum. Although some members of Congress are now seeking to weaken the Act, public opinion research indicates that the law continues to maintain broad, bipartisan, public support. A 2015 poll conducted by Tulchin Research found that 90 percent of American voters across all political, regional and demographic jurisdictions support the Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Species Act was a landmark conservation law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 92-0 in the Senate, and 394-4 in the House. And the letter highlights its 99 percent success rate, noting some of the country’s most exciting wildlife recoveries, including bald eagles, humpback whales, American alligators, Channel Island foxes, Tennessee purple coneflowers, and more.

Bald eagle photo credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This image and others representing above species are available for media use.

“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 groups called on legislators to “support the Endangered Species Act and oppose any bill, rider, or other policy proposal that weakens protections for endangered species and habitat.” Instead, the letter noted the decrease in funding of the Endangered Species Act since 2010 and called on legislators to “seek full funding and comprehensive implementation of the Act.”

The full letter to Senate and House leadership can be read here.

 

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Don’t “Modernize” the Endangered Species Act, Just Fund It!

This is a guest post from Rick Lamplugh, an author and wildlife advocate from Gardiner, Montana. Rick writes to protect wildlife and preserve wildlands. He lives near Yellowstone’s north gate and is just finishing his new book, Deep into Yellowstone: A Year’s Immersion in Grandeur and Controversy. He is the author of the Amazon bestseller In the Temple of Wolves, available as eBook or paperback or as a signed copy from Rick.

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The Endangered Species Coalition is bringing me and a number of other advocates to Washington, D.C. for a couple days to lobby for the Endangered Species Act. I respect the work of this national coalition of hundreds of conservation-minded organizations, and I’m glad to go. To prepare, I’m researching and writing. Here’s some of what I’ve found.

The ESA faces a coordinated attack. One of the attackers is U.S. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT)—the same politician who wants to sell off our public lands. Another is U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY). He wants to “modernize the ESA.” (Conservationists know that what he really means is “gut the ESA.”) He says that less than 3 percent of protected species have recovered enough to no longer need protection. Then he proclaims, “As a doctor, if I admit 100 patients to the hospital and only 3 recover enough under my treatment to be discharged, I would deserve to lose my medical license.”

That’s a good sound bite. But let’s take his medical argument further. 

Photo of grizzly and wolf (both beneficiaries of ESA) via public domain

Consider a species being placed under ESA protection as similar to an ailing person’s ambulance ride to the emergency room. Once the patient arrives, the hospital must spend money to diagnose and fix the problem. More must be spent on follow-up to make sure the treatment worked. If a hospital failed to spend this money, the patient would not get better. But that wouldn’t be the fault of the ambulance that delivered the patient. 

In truth, listing a species under the ESA—giving it the ambulance ride—is the relatively easy step. Once listed, time, resources, and money must be spent to implement a plan that will fix the problems that create the threat. That money is not being spent. The ESA is not the problem. The problem is shortsighted politicians refusing to fund it adequately.  

The Center for Biological Diversity (a member of the Endangered Species Coalition) studied ESA funding and found it has been “chronically and severely underfunded.” Yet even while shortchanged, the ESA has been—contrary to Senator Barrasso’s claim—incredibly effective. It has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of species under its protection and put hundreds of species on the road to recovery.

The Center determined that the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s current annual budget for recovery of the more than 1,500 protected species is $82 million per year. That covers little more than basic administrative functions.

In their estimation, “…fully implementing recovery plans for all listed species managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service would require approximately $2.3 billion per year, about the same amount that’s given to oil and gas companies to subsidize extraction of fossil fuels on public lands and a tiny fraction of the roughly $3.7 trillion federal budget in 2015.”

The Center’s solution is simple: increase annual appropriation for endangered species recovery over the next 10 years. 

In other words, Dr. Barrasso, if you really want to modernize, spend the money to treat the patient that the ambulance delivered to you for help.


This post originally appeared June 14th, 2017 on Rick Lamplugh’s blog.

Don’t fear wolves and grizzlies — respect them.

This is a guest post from Bethany Cotton. She is the Wildlife Program Director for WildEarth Guardians, an Endangered Species Coalition Member Organization. The post originally appeared at High Country News (HCN.org).

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The recent news that a beloved white wolf was shot — likely inside Yellowstone National Park — highlights the fact that even our most protected spaces are not always sanctuaries for rare wildlife.

Last year, just days after a court ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowed politics to trump science when it refused to provide Endangered Species Act protections for wolverines, a rancher killed the first wolverine seen in North Dakota in 150 years. The wily traveling animal was the storied M56, who became Colorado’s first confirmed wolverine in generations when he arrived from Wyoming in 2009. M56’s death is emblematic of the tragic fate of many animals trying to reclaim lost habitats.

For wolves and wolverine, the risks of dispersing to former homelands are exceedingly high. You’ve likely heard of OR7, called “Journey,” the wolf that traversed Oregon and became the first seen in California in 85 years. Upon returning to southern Oregon, he encountered a female fellow wanderer; their family is known today as the Rogue pack.

Unfortunately, Journey’s story is the exception. Echo, the Grand Canyon wolf, was killed in Utah despite significant media attention to her presence. Again, she was the first confirmed wolf in the area in decades. Echo’s story was all the more compelling because dispersing animals are rarely female.

Even though Echo weighed 50 pounds more than a coyote and wore a bright orange radio-collar, a hunter shot her, claiming he thought she was a coyote. The government declined to prosecute, notwithstanding Echo’s protected status, citing its misguided “McKittrick Policy” under which wildlife killers are only charged when the feds can prove their intent to target a protected animal.

A white Alpa female wolf of the Canyon pack roams Yellowstone in 2016.
Neal Herbert/Courtesy Yellowstone National Park

These are the well known stories, but there are dozens more. Wolves are killed in Colorado, Kansas, and Iowa; each time, they’re the first seen there in human generations. Shot without any repercussion, with the government failing to enforce Endangered Species Act safeguards.

These intrepid animals’ stories captivate the public. They have a larger-than-life presence in our minds and on the landscape. Perhaps they remind us of our own youth — how we felt setting out into the wide world to forge our path, seeking a new home, building a family.

Anthropomorphizing animals has its problems, but in many ways, we are not so different from Echo, Journey or M56. I’ve left my home in Oregon to work in wildlife conservation, first in Colorado, now in Montana. I, too, wander the West looking for the best berry patches, swimming holes and gorgeous mountain meadows. Sometimes I encounter a grizzly or wolf.

They pose far less of a threat to me than my species does to them.

These iconic animals are more than emblems of hope, renewal and recovery. They have key ecological and conservation roles to play. That is, if we don’t shoot them first.

Even grizzlies aren’t safe. Scarface, Yellowstone’s most famous bear, was shot in 2015, when he wandered outside the Park’s invisible boundary. And in the last two weeks of May, two grizzlies were illegally killed in Montana. The first died at the hands of a careless-at-best black bear hunter in an area where grizzlies hadn’t lived for decades. The second was shot and its body dumped off a bridge. Scarface and the other two died despite federal protections.

If the Yellowstone ecoregion’s grizzlies are stripped of protection, this nightmare will come true regularly, sanctioned by our government not just tacitly, but explicitly.

If we allow Montana, Idaho and Wyoming to permit grizzly trophy-hunting seasons, the strongest animals — the best chance to breathe new life into imperiled gene pools and re-establish connectivity among remaining isolated populations — will die in the echo of high-powered rifle shots.

As in the bygone Wild West, the old guard’s prevailing attitude is to shoot first, ask questions later. But unlike 100 years ago, we now know how important carnivores are to healthy, thriving ecosystems. And we’ve learned that it’s not too late to restore the balance we foolishly upset.

M56, Scarface and Echo lived extraordinary lives. They overcame seemingly insurmountable barriers, both natural and human-made: crossing mountain ranges and highways, traversing landscapes fragmented by suburban sprawl, fossil fuel development and an out-of-control public-lands road network. Humans have destroyed much of the natural connectivity between habitats, yet these animals persevered: resilience incarnate.

Far too many dispersing animals meet untimely deaths, victims of human carelessness at best, and at worst, of disproven anti-carnivore myths. We should learn more from their plight than just their individual extraordinary stories. The biggest impediment to the recovery of wolves, wolverines and grizzlies, and in turn to the benefits they bring back to the broken ecosystems on which we all depend, is us.

It’s long past time we start showing respect to these incredible animals, lower our guns, raise our voices, and welcome them home.


This post originally appeared June 16th, 2017 at High Country News.

Protect the Science, Protect the Species

This is a guest post by Charise Johnson, a research associate in the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. The Union of Concerned Scientists is an Endangered Species Coalition Member Organization.

As we face irreversible destruction of species and their habitats due to threats from habitat loss and fragmentation, overharvesting, pollution, climate change, and invasive species, lawmakers indicate they intend to attack the Endangered Species Act again. Under the current administration, we’ve already witnessed the introduction of several pieces of legislation intended to weaken the Endangered Species Act or specific species protections. Most recently, Senator Barrasso (R-WY), chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, announced interest in introducing legislation sometime this summer to overhaul the Act (here and here), despite the ESA’s history of overwhelming support from voters. These potential modifications would mean shifting the authority of implementing the Endangered Species Act from scientists and wildlife managers to politicians.

Science is a constitutive element of the Endangered Species Act, the emergency care program for wildlife. It is the foundation for listing and delisting threatened and endangered species, developing recovery plans for the continued survival of listed species, and taking preventative conservation efforts. This is both a boon and a curse. Since the Endangered Species Act relies on the best available science to make conservation decisions, it is highly successful—over 99% of the species protected under the Act have dodged extinction—yet this reliance on science also makes the law highly susceptible to outside interference from political interests.

Here I am on a nesting beach in Barbuda, monitoring critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles (see above), one of over a thousand species currently listed under the ESA.

Here I am on a nesting beach in Barbuda, monitoring critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles (see above), one of over a thousand species currently listed under the ESA.

The Endangered Species Act has withstood a barrage of politically motivated attacks over the years, from hidden policy riders to blatant editing of scientific content in federal documents.  The notoriety of the sage grouse, for example, comes more as a direct result of it being one of the most politically contentious species listed under the ESA than from its ostentatious courting rituals. The sage grouse issue illustrates what can happen when decisions to protect a species prioritize politics.

The implications of attacks on the science-based Endangered Species Act reflect broader attacks on science in general. Science should have priority influence on our policy decisions; otherwise regulated industries and politics will decide critical aspects of our everyday lives—like the safety and quality of our food, air, and water, and whether or not our nation’s biodiversity is protected. As scientists, we must continue to advance the role of science in public policy as a whole, and ensure that public health, worker safety, and environmental protections rely on the best independent scientific and technical information available.

My generation has been accused of ruining everything from napkins to handshakes. But we should recognize that we have a responsibility to protect imperiled species from permanent extinction so that future generations can experience animals like the bald eagle in the wild. Ensuring that this responsibility is informed by the best available science provided by biologists and other conservation experts is critical. That’s why as a scientific community, we need to make certain the decisions to protect wildlife at risk of extinction are grounded in science. Scientists, not Congress, should be informing decisions about which species deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act. We don’t need to “fix” something that already works. Please join me in urging Congress not to support any legislation to rewrite or modify the Endangered Species Act—our most successful conservation law.

PS If you need additional motivation to sign the letter, just look at this pair of gray wolf pups! Why would someone be against protecting endangered species?


This post originally appeared on the Union of Concerned Scientists blog.

The Global Species Crisis: Mammals on the Brink of Extinction

This is a guest post on World Environment Day from Chris Rowson, Managing Director, Eco2Greetings.

For some animal species, time on planet Earth is running out. There have been five mass extinctions in the planet’s history, and animal populations so far suggests that we may have entered what will be the sixth great extinction wave. Since the 1960’s and 1970’s, when the idea of saving many of the world’s animals was first recognised, scientists have strived to save dwindling animal numbers. But, despite efforts the list of endangered species has more than doubled in the past two decades according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). More than 23,000 plant and animal species are listed on the IUCN, including corals, birds, mammals and amphibians.

The IUCN accounts for all of the endangered species, classifying them on a spectrum that ranges from “near threatened” to “extinct”; with “endangered” species in the middle. Factors that are examined to determine level of extinction include a vulnerability analysis of a species’ habitat, an indication of a shrinking population, and observing issues that prevent reproduction.

As it stands, 3,406 mammal species are categorized as threatened. In 2015 the number stood at 1,201.  Extinction rates have reached levels unparalleled since the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago, and this is mainly because of air and water pollution, forest clearing, loss of wetlands, and other man-induced environmental changes. As human beings we are responsible for being the biggest threat to endangered species. Habitat loss is the greatest threat to wildlife globally, affecting over 2,000 mammals.

Species loss threatens to reduce biodiversity and ultimately the collapse of ecosystems across the world. One of the biggest examples of this are endangered bees. The rusty patched bumblebee’s population has plummeted nearly 90% since the 1990’s in the United States. Bees play a vital role in pollination for agriculture, globally honey bees are the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. It is estimated that one-third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination mainly by bees.

For World Environment Day on 5th June, Eco2Greetings have used World Bank data to highlight where in the world mammals are most in need of protection and conservation. The map reveals the top 10 countries with the most threatened mammals: 

  1. Indonesia – 188

  2. Madagascar – 120

  3. Mexico – 96

  4. India – 92

  5. Brazil – 81

  6. China – 74

  7. Malaysia – 73

  8. Australia – 63

  9. Thailand – 56

  10. Vietnam – 55

Find the full interactive map here.

Good management starts with science

This post was written by Dave Stalling for High Country News.  Dave is a hunter, angler, and writer living in Missoula, Montana, and past president and field organizer for the Montana Wildlife Federation.


Last year, a group of Montanans, including wildlife biologists and hunters, launched a ballot initiative that would have banned trapping on public lands. They called trapping barbaric because people’s pets, as well as threatened and endangered wildlife, inadvertently get killed in traps. 

Trappers responded with outrageous claims, charging that the initiative was backed by “out-of-state animal-rights extremists,” who were “uninformed about wildlife.” Opponents of trapping, they claimed, were “trying to destroy our way of life.” And this was just the beginning: “Once they stop trapping, they will come after hunting, and fishing, and ranching, and logging.” Many of my fellow hunters also defended trapping, repeating the same arguments.

When it comes to predators like wolves or bears, it’s all black-and-white to some people. You’re either “one of us” or “one of them,” and there is little room for rational discussion; if you don’t agree with them, they attack with fervor.

During the trapping debate, hunting organizations dusted off the “ballot-box biology” defense, saying that such decisions should be made by wildlife professionals whose opinions are based on science, not by citizens who are acting out of emotion. We hunters love to claim that our approach to wildlife management is based on science. And, of course, it should be, but too often it’s not.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department conducts aerial shooting of wolves and sends bounty hunters into wilderness areas to eliminate wolf packs despite what we know about wolf behavior, ecology and biology. That’s not management based on science.

Throughout the West, we continue to carry out a war on coyotes and wolves despite overwhelming scientific evidence that such actions disrupt the social and breeding behavior of these animals and can, ironically, result in even larger numbers of coyotes and wolves. That’s not management based on science.

Colorado proposed a ban on the baiting of bears, based on scientific evidence that the baiting of bears was having negative impacts by habituating bears to human handouts and changing their natural habits. The state’s chief bear biologist penned a piece in support of the baiting ban for Outdoor Life. Before it was published (and before anyone even read it) hunters and hunting organizations rallied against Outdoor Life and successfully prevented the publication of the piece. Two editors left their jobs over the incident. That’s not management based on science.

Photo credit Jim Harvey/U.S. Forest Service

Wildlife management decisions are often based on public needs and desires, and that should be part of the process. But sometimes those needs and desires go against science. Trappers, hunters and the agricultural industry have a lot of power over state legislatures and wildlife management. One consequence is that other citizens feel left out of the decision-making, and are often ridiculed and attacked by hunters and trappers. Our system, with all its tremendous achievements, has flaws, and those flaws can lead us closer to animal husbandry than science-based wildlife management.

A report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the flaws of the North American model of wildlife management summed it up this way: “Wildlife management conducted in the interest of hunters can lead to an overabundance of animals that people like to hunt, such as deer, and the extermination of predators that also provide a vital balance to the ecosystem.” 

I recently heard a hunter who makes hunting videos criticize the “animal rights extremists” who file lawsuits to protect wolves, claiming such lawsuits go against “sound, scientific management” and our “North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.” Those citizens filed those lawsuits in response to states doing things such as gunning down wolves from helicopters and sending in bounty hunters to eliminate packs in wilderness areas. That’s not management based on science.

The executive director of a large, influential hunting organization has repeatedly called wolves “the worst ecological disaster since the decimation of bison,” and claims wolves and grizzly bears are “annihilating” our elk herds. That’s also not promoting management based on science.

That leads me to think that some of these ballot initiatives are, indeed, “ballot-box biology,” in the sense that they defend and demand good science when state wildlife agencies won’t.

Hunters and trappers are their own worst enemies. When they defend the indefensible — the deaths of family pets and threatened and endangered species from traps set on public lands — and attack other citizens for having legitimate concerns, they just the way lead to more ballot-box biology.  


This story was originally published at High Country News (hcn.org) on May 25th, 2017.