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Semi-finalists Chosen in 2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

The 2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest was an amazing success with more than 1,100 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!

 

2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

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 10th 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.

#BecauseLoboWeek

It’s that time again, y’all – #LoboWeek2019!

It has been 21 years since the Mexican gray wolf (also referred to as the Lobo) was returned to the wilds of southern New Mexico and Arizona. Their persistence, despite years of mismanagement and suppression, is astounding. So this week is to them! Raise your glasses and / or mugs in their honor!

To me, the lobo represents a fullness that flows beyond them. Their presence on the land depicts health and equity. Wolves are often linked to balance- keeping prey populations healthy, allowing vegetation to flourish, and thus providing habitat for other species and decreasing soil erosion. They provide us these gifts unknowingly and, I would assume, without care. They are just following their instincts, their internal nature.

I am grateful to the Mexican gray wolf and all they give to the Earth. And their unwavering drive to survive is nothing if not admirable. For better or worse, I see that same drive in humans. Perhaps it is that we see ourselves in the wolf and that is one reason why white settlers have traditionally feared and oppressed them. That mentality has permeated into an institutionalized bias against them that lingers to this day.

Humans account for the majority of all lobo mortalities. Too often, Mexican wolves are hit by cars, caught in traps, illegally poached, or lethally removed due to livestock depredations (that are often avoidable).  In 2018, 21 wild Mexican wolves were found dead, a 50% increase over the next highest year for wolf mortality, which was in 2016. Many of these mortalities are still under investigation.

However, the greatest threat to lobo recovery lingers beneath the surface. After being listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1976, a captive breeding program began. But the Mexican wolf was just one bad day away from extinction. Only seven individuals were able to be located in the wild. These seven wolves are the ancestors of all lobos alive today. But that makes the gene pool pretty slim. So slim that all the wild wolves today are estimated to be as closely related to each other as brother and sister. Low genetic diversity like this causes big problems in the animal kingdom. For the lobo, this means low birth rates, disease, a decreased ability to adapt to changing climates, and an overall harder time recovering.

Despite these barriers, they have persisted in the wild for 21 years now. But they need help. For almost four years now, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency is charge of lobo recovery, has relied exclusively on cross-fostering to increase genetic diversity. Cross-fostering is a strategy used by the Service, during which newly born pups are removed from a den and then either placed in a different den or replaced with captive-born pups. This strategy mixes up the genetics within packs. Wolves are notorious suckers for puppies (kind of like when you see a cute, chubby baby in the supermarket), so there is little risk of a “new” puppy being rejected. Cross-fostering is an effective strategy, however, some experts explain that is should not be the only strategy.

Releasing captive-born, bonded family packs into the wild has shown a high level of success and a high rate of survival. This strategy also allows for lots of new genes to be added to the population at one time and is not limited by external factors, as cross-fostering is. With cross-fostering, timing is everything. The captive-born pups must be very close in age to the wild-born pups. If these litters are not born close enough in time, the cross-foster cannot happen. Cross-fostering is also limited by the number of dens found by US Fish and Wildlife Service staff. If the wolves hide their dens too well, there will not be any cross-fostering that year.

Ensuring that the Service uses a variety of techniques in their plans to shepherd the lobo to recovery is imperative. At this point, it has been 204 weeks since any adult wolves were released into the wild. Please ask the US Fish and Wildlife Service to diversify their strategies in order to save the lobo from this genetic crisis.

#LoboWeek is a time for celebration. We tip our hats to their resilience and heart. This Lobo Week, please commit to educating yourself and talking with your family and friends about their plight. Give the lobo your voice by contacting US Fish and Wildlife Service. And keep the wolf energy alive by embracing the wildness within yourself. <3

Trump Administration to Strip Protections for Gray Wolves

Contact: Leda Huta, lhuta@endangered.org, (202) 320-6467

Tara Thornton, tthornton@endangered.org, (207) 504-2705

 

 Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) today announced its intention to remove Endangered Species Act protections for all gray wolves in the United States that are currently protected. The Endangered Species Coalition decried the move as political, and urged the Trump Administration not to abandon the still-recovering species.

“Wolves have only been restored in a tiny fraction of their historic and suitable range,” said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “Wolf recovery could be one of America’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories if the Fish and Wildlife Service would finish the job it started.”

There were once up to 2 million gray wolves living in North America, but the animals had been driven to near-extinction in the lower 48 states by the early 1900s. After passage of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973 and protection of the wolf as endangered, federal recovery programs resulted in the rebound of wolf populations in limited parts of the country. Gray wolves returned on their own to the Western Great Lakes region and northwest Montana and were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, where they have made a successful comeback. However, wolves are still struggling in areas of Oregon and Washington, while only a few have made it to California or the southern Rockies, where substantial areas of suitable habitat exist. Roughly 5,500 wolves currently live in the continental United States – a fraction of the species’ historic numbers.

“Without the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act, gray wolves would never have recovered in the places where they are now,” said Huta. “By removing protections across the country, the Trump Administration is essentially abandoning all efforts to restore this iconic American species to millions of acres of wild habitat.”

A similar proposal in 2013 outraged Americans: one million citizens submitted comments and 200 business leaders signed a letter in opposition to the plan to strip endangered species protections from gray wolves.

The wolf delisting notice was published in the Federal Register and will include a period for public comment, after which the rule can be finalized by the Trump Administration.

Massive Opposition to Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at BLM Hearing

On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a hearing in Washington, D.C. to receive testimony regarding their recent Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The room was packed with citizens greatly concerned about the threat of oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain, a pristine and ecologically sensitive wilderness area fought over by environmentalists and developers since the 1970s. The coastal plain, a 2,000 acre area, is considered the biological heart of the entire Arctic Refuge system because it provides critical habitat for hundreds of species, some of which, are facing extinction including polar bears, ice seals, and spectacled eider.

It is also essential to the 218,000 members of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, who depend on the Coastal Plain for calving grounds each year. In addition, more than 200 species of birds from every state and territory in the United States migrate to the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge each year. Moreover, the Coastal Plain is home to a variety of other species including coyotes, gray wolves, Arctic foxes, Red foxes, lynx, black bears, grizzly bears, wolverines, moose, muskox, dall sheep, walruses, spotted seals, beluga whales, gray whales, and bowhead whales.

Our colleague, Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Endangered Species Coalition member organization, Defenders of Wildlife, issued a press release on December 20, 2018 denouncing the draft EIS stating that “The administration’s Arctic Refuge leasing plan ignores science, turns a deaf ear to public opinion, attempts to skirt the law and paper over a disastrous decision that has already been made.” The Endangered Species Coalition  joins Defenders of Wildlife in strong opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as it is far too important to the survival of hundreds of wildlife species and will forever be destroyed should drilling be permitted.

The BLM is accepting comments on the EIS from now until March 13, 2019 and we ask that you submit one today stating your opposition to the plan and opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If you have questions or would like additional information, please email Katie Little at klittle@endangered.org. For more details on the EIS, please click here and for more information on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, please click here.

Celebrating Endangered Species Day at Children’s Museums

This post was originally published on the Association of Children’s Museums website.

Exhibit and education coordinators and other children’s museum staff often face a challenging assignment: creating an exhibit or activity that captures the interest of young people and offers a positive learning experience.

The 14th annual Endangered Species Day on May 17, 2019 provides children’s museums with an opportunity to highlight their educational programs and overall mission while also recognizing this nationwide celebration.

First approved by the U.S. Senate in 2006, the purpose of Endangered Species Day is to expand awareness about endangered species and habitat conservation and to share success stories of species recovery. Every year, museums, schools, zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens, conservation groups, parks, wildlife refuges and other locations hold Endangered Species Day events throughout the country.

There are several ways that children’s museums can observe Endangered Species Day on May 17 or another convenient time in May:

Prepare an exhibit. You could modify an existing display or organize a new one. This can feature dioramas, animal replicas, photos and artwork of endangered species and local habitats, books and other material as part of a temporary exhibit. The Endangered Species Day website includes a variety of resources, including a series of infographics that you can easily adapt to meet space limitations and other requirements. Even those museums that already have a full schedule of exhibits and other programs should be able to add a day or weeklong activity.

Invite a speaker. You can also invite a local expert from the Audubon Society or other group to speak about the actions people can take to help protect endangered animals and plants.

Offer specific children’s activities. Popular examples include a reading hour, an art table, bat box building, and milkweed seed bomb making (for monarch butterfly gardens). You can also invite people to take an animal tracking quiz—you can find one for your state by contacting the Department of Fish & Game or Department of Natural Resources (like these examples from Maine and Minnesota).

Engage your visitors. Encourage children (and adults) to express themselves about endangered species, their favorite animals, and what people can do to help. They can add their comments to a poster board or table journal. This may be the first time that many young people have talked about endangered species. Of course, it’s essential to highlight the positive, so be sure to emphasize the success stories of species recovery and that individuals can and do make a difference in protecting imperiled species.

Expand promotion. In addition to regular museum member outreach, share details of your exhibit/activity on the Endangered Species Day event directory or send the details to me (drobinson@endangered.org).

The Endangered Species Day website (www.endangeredspeciesday.org) features a variety of resources, including event planning information; a reading list; a series of infographics about endangered species conservation, actions people can take, and the Endangered Species Act; and color/activity sheets, masks, bookmarks, stickers and other material. Many of these can be downloaded and printed for use at your activity.

David Robinson is Endangered Species Day Director at Endangered Species Coalition. Learn more at www.endangeredspeciesday.org.

Energy development threatens big game herds in Wyoming (and why it matters outside the state, too)

This is a guest post by Dr. Kristen Gunther. It was originally published on ensia.com.

Wyoming is sprawling and sparsely populated, home to some of the most awe-inspiring, intact lands and ecosystems in North America. Tourists from all over the world flock to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks to spot iconic wildlife such as elk, bison, deer and pronghorn. Hunters travel here for once-in-a-lifetime experiences chasing big game through Wyoming’s rugged mountains and desert basins.

Wyoming also plays an important role in the nation’s energy economy: Our production of oil, natural gas and coal ranks us as one of the top energy-supplying states. The majority of those industrial operations take place on over 30 million acres (12 million hectares) of federal public lands, which comprise about half the state.

For decades, Wyomingites have strived to strike a balance between an energy economy and an outdoor culture that values both natural resources and energy extraction. Our state leaders were at the forefront of Greater sage-grouse conservation and championed a collaborative, science-based plan that was adopted throughout the West and was credited for the 2015 decision that no listing was required for the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

photo credit USFWS

Yet in the current political climate and administration, where an “energy dominance” mandate for management has been passed to federal public lands managers, we are facing a future where one of the West’s most iconic species  — the mule deer — could be irreparably devastated. The stakes are obvious for Wyoming, but even for those who aren’t concerned about Wyoming ecosystems or the native big game species of the West, this is a conflict with sobering nationwide ramifications. What we’re faced with today is a federal government determined to continue free-for-all industrial development against the will of its citizens, even when we offer pragmatic, evidence-based conservative solutions that require absolutely no sacrifice.

Fracturing an Ancient Migration

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are indigenous to the West, and the youngest branch of the deer family in North America. “Muleys” get their name from their large ears. They are elusive, highly specialized, beloved animals, and hunting them can take you deep into some rough and beautiful country. In a state that brings in about US$300 million annually in total big game hunting revenue, deer represent a major contribution to local economies and conservation funding.

photo credit USFWS

Our knowledge about mule deer and their particular migratory behaviors has deepened as research technologies and field ecology methods have become increasingly sophisticated. Wyoming, with its lengthy, brutal winters and dry summers, is a difficult place for a large mammal to make a living. Most big game survive the climate extremes by moving seasonally across landscapes as forage conditions change through the year. Most famously, the thousands of mule deer in Wyoming’s Sublette Herd travel 150 miles twice each year, moving northwest from lower elevation winter range in the Red Desert to the lush, green summer slopes of the Hoback Basin just south of the Tetons, and then reversing course to return to the desert in the fall. It’s a jaw-dropping navigational feat, considering that the deer begin their travel to higher summer range at the end of a long winter, when they’re in their worst shape of the year. Some areas of the migration corridor are as narrow as half a football field. It’s something of a wonder that the corridor (the longest mule deer migration ever recorded, and the second-longest overland migration of any kind recorded in North America) has remained functional for this long at all.

Unfortunately, we are uncovering the scope of these incredible feats at a time when a new federal policy toward our public lands favors energy extraction over natural resources. In 2018, federal oil and gas lease sales grew exponentially in Wyoming. Nearly 1.5 million acres (600,000 hectares) of public land in Wyoming was offered for lease to oil and gas companies by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the federal agency that manages more than half of the public lands within the state. Only a small percentage of these acres fall in critical habitat for mule deer, some even smack dab in the middle of the Red Desert to Hoback route. These parcels represent a fraction of the massive acreage on offer to oil and gas companies — for example, less than 9 percent of the acreage included in the upcoming February sale. But development within them has the potential to functionally fracture this ancient migration and devastate these herds.

Does Science Matter In Decision-Making?

Protecting the Red Desert to Hoback and other well-documented big game migration corridors in Wyoming is not a threat to Wyoming’s energy industry, where millions of acres are already open for drilling. But this conflict is much greater than the question of whether energy should outweigh wildlife when it comes to management of multiple-use public lands — it shouldn’t, and legally it does not. It’s also a question of whether or not science matters in decision-making. The best peer-reviewed research in the world regarding these migrations is taking place in Wyoming, and it shows that oil and gas development within migration corridors and winter range is a direct threat to mule deer in particular. Muleys don’t ever get used to the presence of oil and gas activities, even over the course of generations. And unlike other big game, they can’t adapt their migratory strategy or route as the landscape changes around them. They learn their migration route — scientists hypothesize that they are taught by their mothers — and keep to it for the rest of their lives. These unique traits are compelling, but maladaptive in the context of an increasingly disturbed landscape.

photo credit USFWS

If we lose our deer herds for the sake of quick oil and gas profits, the loss won’t just be felt in our deer, but in ourselves as well. We know the science, and we know what it says we must do. And we are not willing to forever give up a special and wild part of who we are.

We know what we must do to ensure our deer populations remain viable. It’s as simple as this: Of all the tens of millions of acres of public lands within Wyoming, we must avoid drilling within the small percentage these herds rely on.

The Wyoming Outdoor Council, alongside several other conservation NGOs, has repeatedly made this case to federal and state decision-makers. Yet the BLM continues to open up hundreds of thousands more acres for development each quarter. Worse, these leases are selling for dirt cheap — at the minimum allowable auction price of US$2 per acre, and sometimes even less. The state brought in only about US$50,000 from parcels in the middle of the Red Desert to Hoback corridor, a lifeline for some 5,000 deer. The BLM jeopardized the integrity of the world’s longest mule deer migration corridor for US$10 per deer. That’s both unacceptable and unnecessary.

It can be hard to imagine perilously grave declines in a species with such deep and enduring cultural value. But federal oil and gas leasing for the sake of a misguided “energy dominance” mandate is proceeding at such an alarming pace that another oil and gas firesale year like 2018 will set us on a course to forever decimate Wyoming’s deer. That’s why we’ve started a petition that allows people to add their names in opposition to these decisions that prioritize a rush to energy extraction at the expense of our natural resources.

Wyoming is an energy state, but we’re also a wildlife state, home to landscapes and species that have sparked human imaginations and passions for countless generations. If we lose our deer herds for the sake of quick oil and gas profits, the loss won’t just be felt in our deer, but in ourselves as well. We know the science, and we know what it says we must do. And we are not willing to forever give up a special and wild part of who we are. 

Endangered Species Youth Art Contest Opens

K-12 Students of all Ages Encouraged to Enter by March 1
 
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Endangered Species Coalition announced the opening of its annual youth art contest. Elementary, middle and high school teachers and their students are encouraged to submit artwork by the March 1 deadline.The Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest is an integral part of the annual Endangered Species Day, celebrated the third Friday of May each year (May, 17, 2019).Started in 2006 by the United States Congress, Endangered Species Day is a celebration of the nation’s wildlife and wild places.

The Youth Art Contest provides K-12 students residing in the United States with an opportunity to learn about endangered animal and plant species and express their knowledge and support through artwork. Young artists who are home schooled and participate in youth groups are also eligible to submit their art. More than 1,500 young artists from throughout the country entered the 2018 contest.

Saving Endangered Species Youth Art contest entries should depict a land or ocean-dwelling species that either lives in or migrates through the United States and its waters and has been placed on the threatened/endangered species list.  Artwork must be submitted electronically by March 1, 2019. A prestigious panel of artists, photographers and conservationists will judge the artwork. Winners will be chosen in four categories: K-Grade 2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8 and Grades 9-12, and will receive plaques and art supply gift packs (from Chartpak Inc.). In addition, one grand prize winner will be honored at a reception in Washington, D.C. in May 2019 and also receive a special art lesson from a professional artist. Last year’s winners can be viewed online

Visit www.endangeredspeciesday.org for more information, including complete contest guidelines, submission details, an art lesson plan, and the 2018 contest winners’ and semi-finalists’ artwork. If you have any questions, contact David Robinson (Endangered Species Day Director): drobinson@endangered.org 

It’s time to end killing contests

Wildlife killing contests are legally, morally and scientifically wrong.

Scientists, conservationists, hunters, and farmers, know that indiscriminate killing is ineffective in controlling livestock losses because only some, often few, individual predators participate in depredation.

Killing contests are not a reliable method of regulating deer populations either. There is zero scientific justification for it. Deer populations are much more influenced by food supply and climate conditions than any natural predator outside of man. These contests do just the opposite of the intention, increasing populations and increasing depredation on livestock.

Killing contests devalue native wildlife and glorify violence while disrupting natural processes. They even encourage dog fighting by pitting hunting dogs against wild wolves during these events.

Coyote image credit Wikipedia/Christopher Bruno

These events give ethical hunters a bad name and serve no legitimate management purpose. Killing contests of wild canids, like coyotes, in particular, threaten long term recovery of gray wolves. Gray wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act and that misidentification of these wolves is a substantial cause of wolf poaching. In Northern Wisconsin contests, hounds are used to pursue and frequently kill and maim the target species. The use of hunting hounds in killing contests leads to unnecessary conflict between wolves and hunting hounds which the public then has to unfairly pay for.

In Wisconsin, hunters that use hounds can be compensated up to $2,500. The state has paid out tens-of-thousands of taxpayer dollars to date for preventable and unethical actions.

It is time to end these contests once and for all. Honest, ethical sportsmen do not support these killing events and there is no scientific justification for this as a method of wildlife management. Please contact your Wisconsin state representative today and ask that they support legislation to end wildlife killing contests in our state.

 

Protect Our National Parks

Our National Parks represent a global model for conservation and inspire millions of visitors annually. Yet the present government shutdown, which started on December 21st, 2018, has led to a staffing and maintenance crisis in National Parks. Damage occurring to our parks as a consequence of keeping parks open during the government shutdown is a catastrophe for public lands and wildlife.

According to Jonathan B Jarvis, who served as the 18th Director of the National Parks Service, “Leaving the parks open without these essential staff is equivalent to leaving the Smithsonian museums open without any staff to protect the priceless artefacts.”

Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Our National Parks are vital in that these public lands provide essential habitat for iconic threatened and endangered species. The National Parks Conservation Association, in partnership with Defenders of Wildlife, created an interactive map displaying threatened and endangered species:

Allowing parks to remain open during the shutdown reflects the Trump administration pattern of disregard for the intrinsic value of public lands and demonstrates both a lack of leadership and stewardship.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho

Please act now to support park closure during the government shutdown.

Hawai’I Volcanos National Park, Hawai’i

Hawai’I Volcanos National Park, Hawai’i

Extinction Plan: Ten Species Imperiled by the Trump Administration

Washington, D.C. – The Trump Administration is on the cusp of finalizing a set of rules to weaken the Endangered Species Act, and a new report out today lists ten animals threatened by the Administration’s existing and proposed policies. Draft Department of Interior rules designed to make it harder to protect wildlife and important habitat would have negative impact on declining species such as the manatee, two sea turtles, and a rare bumble bee, according to the report, “Extinction Plan: Ten Species Imperiled by the Trump Administration.”  

“The Interior Department under Secretary Zinke has been especially cozy with the industries that are harming the very wildlife the Department is supposed to protect,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “If the Trump Administration has its way, the new regulations will put these species on a fast track to extinction.”

Climate change and habitat loss are two of the biggest drivers of the decline of species like the Pacific leatherback sea turtle, the Humboldt marten, and the western yellow-billed cuckoo. In spite of that, the Trump Administration’s proposed a series of regulations last summer that would weaken the Endangered Species Act. The proposed rules would:

• Make it much more difficult to protect species impacted by climate change
• Make it harder to list a new species and easier to remove those now on the list
• Make it harder to designate critical habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife
• Reduce protections for threatened species

Extinction Plan: Ten Species Imperiled by the Trump Administration:

California condor

Giraffe

Hellbender

Humboldt marten

Sea turtles: leatherback and loggerhead

Red wolf

Rusty patched bumble bee

San Bernardino kangaroo rat

West Indian manatee

Western yellow-billed cuckoo

Endangered Species Coalition’s member groups nominated species for the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations, and decided which species should be included in the final report. The full report, along with photos and additional species information can be viewed and downloaded at http://endangered.org/extinction-plan.

Although the Administration and some members of Congress have been 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 lines 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 signed by President Richard Nixon 45 years ago on December 28. In 2017, more than 400 organizations signed a letter to members of Congress opposing efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act, noting the law has a 99 percent success rate, including some of the country’s most exciting wildlife recoveries, like the bald eagles, humpback whales, American alligators, Channel Island foxes, Tennessee purple coneflowers, and more.

Scientific consensus indicates that we are in the sixth wave of extinction. The main tool in the United States to battle this human-caused crisis is the Endangered Species Act, which has been very effective in keeping species from sliding into extinction.

The Endangered Species Coalition produces a “Top 10” report annually, focusing on a different theme each year. Previous years’ reports are also available on the Coalition’s website.

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