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U.S. Celebrating Endangered Species Day on Friday

Over 130 Events Planned at Zoos, Nature Centers and other Venues

Washington, DC – On Friday, May 18, thousands of Americans are gathering to participate in Endangered Species Day events across the country, in recognition of our nation’s commitment to protecting and restoring our disappearing wildlife. This is the 13th annual international Endangered Species Day, which occurs on the third Friday of May, celebrating our wildlife and wild places.

“Endangered Species Day celebrates America’s vision,” stated Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition, primary sponsor of Endangered Species Day. “When we passed the Endangered Species Act, we affirmed America’s commitment to protecting our natural heritage for future generations.”

On May 18 (and throughout the month) wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, parks, botanic gardens, schools, libraries, museums, and community groups will hold tours, exhibits, classroom discussions, habitat restoration projects, children’s programs, field trips and other activities. This year’s events range from California to Maine, from Florida to Oregon, Montana and Washington, D.C. and elsewhere throughout United States, as well as in Peru, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mexico, Canada and the U.K. Highlights include:

Special presentations at Rocky Mountain, Yosemite and other National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.
Demonstrations, curator talks, tours and other activities at numerous zoos and aquariums, including the Los Angeles Zoo’s “Wild for the Planet,” Kansas City Zoo’s “Zootastic Learning Fest,” “Celebrate Endangered Species Day at Smithsonian’s National Zoo,” and Franklin Park Zoo’s “Be a Hero for Endangered Species.”
Milkweed and pollinator garden plantings to expand monarch/native pollinator habitat in Maine, Montana, Washington, Idaho, California, Indiana, Wisconsin, Maryland, Idaho, Alabama and New Jersey.

Interactive activities for individuals and families, such as Horseshoe Crab Tagging (Middle Township, NJ), the Pollinator Parade and Festival (Falmouth, ME), and the 5K Race Against Extinction (Huntington Beach, CA).
Nationwide “No Straw” campaign, which encourages people to sign a pledge to give up plastics and other single use plastics for the month of May.

Endangered Species Day was first created by U.S. Senate in 2006, when it unanimously designated May 11, 2006 as the first ever “Endangered Species Day,” to encourage “the people of the United States to become educated about, and aware of, threats to species, success stories in species recovery, and the opportunity to promote species conservation worldwide.”

In 2009 the Coalition began incorporating a national youth art contest into the Endangered Species Day event. Each year, nearly two thousand students of all ages submit illustrations of their favorite endangered species to contest judges. The top winners in each age group are selected for the publication in the annual Endangered Species Art calendar, and the grand prizewinner travels to Washington, D.C. on Endangered Species Day to receive an award. This year’s grand prize winner is 9 year old, Brandon Xie, who will receive his award at a ceremony on May 16.

“We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of nature,” said Huta. “The Endangered Species Act is a declaration to the world that we will not rob our children of the opportunity to watch a humpback whale break through the surface of the ocean or to hear the cry of the bald eagle.”

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.

In addition to the Endangered Species Coalition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), numerous conservation, education, community and youth organizations have also supported and participated in Endangered Species Day, including the Girl Scouts USA, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the North American Association for Environmental Education, Native Plant Conservation Campaign, Garden Clubs of America, Sierra Club, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Science Teachers Association, Earth Day Network, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife.

For more information on Endangered Species Day, including event locations and a variety of educational resource materials, visit www.endangeredspeciesday.org.

How Climate Change has Affected Pollinators

This is a guest post by Kylie Johnson. Kylie is the editor at Green and Growing.

Climate change has had a profound effect on the Earth’s weather. Climate change has impacted the natural rhythms of weather, the behavior of animals, and the blooming of flowers. One of the most impacted populations by climate change are pollinators who are facing unprecedented difficulties as they struggle to survive.

First of all, what is climate change?

Climate is the long-term weather averages, as opposed to weather which is the short-term observances of the local climate over hours and weeks. Climate is far more difficult for people to understand as climate data is tracked over years, decades, and centuries. Therefore, climate change is observed drastic changes from the norm in the world’s weather patterns during a long period of time. Scientists are able to compare one area’s summer to a summer decades before in the same area and are able to determine whether it was drier or wetter than average. Climate change has more drastic effects that can be immediately observed; for example, hurricanes like Hurricane Harvey that occurred in late summer 2017 was fueled by warmer waters and, consequently, was more destructive than hurricanes in the past.

Humans all over the world have been drastically impacted by climate change as the weather during the seasons has become more extreme than it has been in the past. In some areas, summer has become drier and hotter, and in other areas winter is lasting longer with far more storms and blizzards. Humans have struggled to adapt to these changes as the violent unpredictable weather has become more common than it has in the past.

If a more adaptable and resilient species like human beings are having difficulty adapting to climate change, it becomes far more understandable why a more fragile group such as pollinators are having immense difficulty coping and surviving.

Impact on Bee Populations

Bees, in particular, are facing the danger of a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder (CCD). A paper from Oregon State University explains CCD: “CCD most likely stems from a combination of problems associated with agricultural beekeeping, including pathogens, nutritional deficiencies and lack of a varied diet, exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides and other pesticides, lack of genetic diversity, habitat loss, and transportation stress. Pesticides, stress, and lack of diversity can actually exacerbate the vulnerability of bees to pathogens.” Habitat loss, nutritional deficiencies, and lack of varied diet are tied directly to climate change as the abnormal climate is impacting the growth of plants and flowers. Climate change is making flowers bloom half a day earlier each year, which means that plants are now blooming a month earlier than 45 years ago. Plants blooming earlier ultimately means that they do not get pollinated and bees are left without food.

As bee colonies continue to be affected by CCD, humans will continue to see the impact of CCD on their plants and crops. The website GreenLivingIdeas states, “NEEF reports that about 1,000 plants we depend on for food and products need to be pollinated by animals, including coffee, tasty snacks like melon, chocolate and almonds, and even tequila.” According to the website, 75% plants in our yards depend on insects and animals to pollinate them, and bees in particular “add more than $15 billion in value to US agricultural crops each year through pollination.” If this dire trend of CCD continues, humans will face severe food shortages and grave economic consequences, not to mention the tragic ramification of bees becoming extinct.

Impact on Hummingbird Populations

Other pollinators besides bee populations are being affected by climate change as well. Four species of hummingbirds in North America at risk because of the rising temperatures: Allen’s Hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Calliope Hummingbird, and Rufous Hummingbird. The increasing warmer temperature is forcing these four species to abandon their native areas for more cooler and stable environments. Intense heat is incredibly dangerous for hummingbirds as it forces them to find shade to cool off rather than feed on nectar, which consequently means that they could starve since their high metabolism demands that they constantly need to eat.

Impact on Bat Populations

Bats are yet another species of pollinators that are affected by the changing climate. The warmer weather impacts their hibernation cycles and their prey availability, which directly affect how successfully a mother bat can give birth and raise her young. According to National Geographic, climate change is also impacting their ultrasonic hearing: “bats living in temperate zones were more likely to lose prey detection volume, while in tropic zones, many bat species will actually be able to detect more prey. Bats calling at lower pitches generally gained prey detection space” because humidity and temperature directly impact how effectively bats can detect their prey.

What You Can do to Help Pollinators

  • Plant a variety of pollinator friendly flowers and plants that are native to your climate.
  • Stop or limit the use of pesticides on your property – pesticides are toxic to pollinators.
  • Create a habitat that is friendly to bees. This means either placing beehives on your property, leaving dead logs around that bees can nest in, and simply ensuring bees have plenty of bee-friendly plants to feed from in your yard.
  • Providing nectar for hummingbirds on your property. You can do this by buying a feeder for hummingbirds and filling it with sugar water.
  • Placing a bat house on your property. This will provide bats a safe place to sleep during the day.
  • Plant milkweed plants – Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves and feed on the nectar of the flowers.

Kylie Johnson is the editor at Green & Growing. She enjoy the outdoors, especially when she can go on a fun hike or adventure. She likes to focus on the perks green living. She feels it is so important to take care of our earth and hope to spread more awareness as she edits and writes.

Make #EndangeredSpeciesDay week plastic-free for wildlife

If you signed the pledge to give up plastics for the week of Endangered Species Day, the time is now! And if you haven’t, it’s not too late to be part of the Plastics Pledge for Endangered Species–add your name today. This one action on your part can help to begin to address the problem of plastic pollution of our oceans. 

We have compiled a few tips to make the week as productive as possible.

If you prefer to drink with straws when you are out, remember to bring a reusable straw in your bag as well as some reusable utensils if you frequent restaurants that serve meals with plastic forks, spoons, and knives (like takeout restaurants). And don’t forget the reusable shopping bag, please!

The key to all of this is you. When the server offers a straw or plastic utensils, POLITELY decline and tell them you are going without to help prevent plastic pollution.

If you can do more, please download and print these cards from The Last Plastic Straw to leave with your bill at restaurants to encourage them to only serve straws on request. Or, you can download and print this two-sided bilingual flyers to help spread the word!

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn about more Endangered Species Day activities this week.

A Roundup of Endangered Species Impacted by Ocean Pollution

By Emily Folk

The beach is a popular place for people to get away to when they want to be surrounded by peace and beauty. There’s no denying that the ocean provides all of that and more, but when people do this, they often take that serenity for granted. The shoreline gets cleaned up by local crews and the real truth gets hidden—that humans are polluting the ocean constantly, in overwhelming amounts.

Although you might not be able to see it from your favorite spot on the beach where you like to lay out and tan, pollution is everywhere in the ocean. From oils to chemicals, marine life is suffering. Plastic may be the biggest pollutant. It’s in almost every part of the human life. It’s cheap to make and profit off of, but it hasn’t been disposed of properly, leading to the suffering of marine animals. Read up on some of the most endangered species that would be much better off if people just recycled their plastic.

Hawaiian Monk Seal

Seals are popular attractions at local zoos because they can learn cute tricks and look similar to dogs. While seals can be found in a variety of locations around the world, the Hawaiian Monk seal lives only in the waters off Hawaii. Since the 1980s, their population has been in a steep decline. Pollution is one of the biggest reasons for this decline. Over the span of two months, research teams removed over 12 tons of debris from the Hawaiian Monk seal pupping beaches, most of it plastic.

Pacific Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Sea turtles are an iconic marine animal, but while figurines can be bought on necklaces, cups and beach towels, they’re greatly endangered by human pollution. The Pacific Loggerhead sea turtle is one species that constantly falls victim to discarded plastics like six pack rings and plastic packaging. It’s why plastic pollution has been declared more deadly to sea turtles than oil spills.

 

Sperm Whales

Whales are mostly passive creatures, eating small organisms like plankton or squid. The sperm whale is one of these, but it’s the most susceptible to plastic pollution. Their large mouths allow for extreme amounts of plastic to be ingested, causing cases like an extreme one in 2008. Two sperm whale were found with plastic clogging their digestive tract, leading to both of their deaths.

 

Cory’s Shearwater

The shearwater seabird family is an expansive one, with the Cory being the largest. It flies over the ocean and dives for its food, which means that it can easily mistake floating plastic debris for food. In a recent study of shearwater birds, the Cory has the highest occurrence of ingesting plastics at 70-94 percent.

 

 

These are just a few species that would have much longer lives with better quality if recycling became a practiced habit for those who buy or use plastic and if plastics use was more limited. Efforts for getting people better resources like local recycling plants and educating future generations need to be on the front line of concerns for everyone, no matter where they live or what they do.

Bio:

Emily is a conservation writer with a passion for educating others about endangered species. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter.

 

Images credit: NOAA


 

 

TAKE ACTION: Sign the Plastic Pledge for Endangered Species

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.