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

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 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): 

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



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

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.


Endangered Species Have Feelings Too

Note: This is a guest post by Alexandra Delis-Abrams, PhD, the author of the book Endangered Species Have Feelings Too.

By Alexandra Delis-Abrams, PhD

When a species becomes endangered, it is a sign – a red flag. Something is breaking down or has already broken down.  Humans depend on healthy eco-systems and when these systems start unraveling, as evidenced by the accelerating rate of species endangerment, it is a call for humans to pay attention.

Do we listen?  Do we take action?  Creative education can encourage us to pay attention, building our capacity for empathy and supporting our ability to act for endangered species.

For over thirty years, my heart has tugged away at me to be of service in two areas:  children and animals. Specifically, encouraging young people to develop emotional literacy–a feelings vocabulary.  When we are aware of our feelings, then willing to express them, we become more closely connected to our authentic nature.  Being honest and yet being kind grows a healthy adult. The art is to learn to listen and have empathy for another – human or otherwise.  Learning that an elephant has been in captivity for 50 plus years, unable to live a life that is natural, imagining what that must feel like is someone with compassion.  It’s an art.

When I’ve spoken at schools about endangered species and asked the students to guess the number of endangered species…the answers range from 14 to 92 total.  According to the ICUN Red List over 96,500 species have been assessed globally, with greater than 26,500 species at risk of extinction. 1

Rhino art from Endangered Species Have Feelings Too

From Endangered Species Have Feelings Too

Replacing ignorance about the number of endangered species with knowledge of the scope of species endangerment, while simultaneously building empathy for other beings is the purpose of my book, Endangered Species Have Feelings Too.  The vision I have for this amazing teaching tool is reaching every young student and supportive adult to allow the text to open their hearts and take action to support endangered species.

The first step is to help youth relate and find connections with animals. Do children really know that the horn of a rhinoceros and our fingernails are made from the same protein, keratin? Understanding this similarity and learning about the relationships between people and non-human animals builds awareness of our connections and similarities to all other species.

The next step is self-expression through coloring of the animal. In Endangered Species Have Feelings Too the Fascinating Fact pages are filled with information, such as how many muscles are in the trunk of an elephant.  These bits of information spark children’s motivation to research organizations, watch videos and/or learn more about a specific animal who draws the attention of the child.

Here is one example of how Endangered Species Have Feelings Too describes iconic endangered species:

I am a polar bear, and I feel exhilarated when I see my new cubs. They each weigh around 25 pounds (11 kg), and because they love my nutritious milk, they grow very quickly and will soon weigh 130 pounds (59 kg). While still young, they will head for the ice but stay close to me for several years.

I feel exhausted when I have to swim long distances looking for ice flows. Global warming is melting the ice, and I have to swim really far to get to sea ice platforms that are moving apart from each other, which makes swimming conditions scary. I will have to spend more time on land and less time on ice drifts so that will make it harder for me to get to the food we usually eat. I swam 426 miles (687 km) without stopping for nine days to find ice, and my little cub didn’t make it. I also lost 22% of my body fat which is not good for me. How long can you swim or run before you feel exhausted?

From Endangered Species Have Feelings Too

Exploring through the endangered species coloring book instills creativity and critical thinking.  Through art, searching the unknown, developing a feelings language, and being inspiring to others with new-found knowledge, is a means of opening the heart to expose parts of oneself one never knew was there.  Helps to answer, “who am I and what is my life about?” Good stuff.

A note from the Endangered Species Coalition:

Author Alexandra Delis-Abrams invites you to consider purchasing Endangered Species Have Feelings Too as an end of year gift. She has graciously offered to donate 25% of book sales to ESC.

Please consider purchasing Endangered Species Have Feelings Too at this website:



Landmark Legislation to Protect Wildlife Corridors Introduced in the Senate and House

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 6, 2018)—Marking the most significant step toward national wildlife conservation in decades, the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act was introduced today in the Senate by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). If passed, the Act will restore habitat and protect America’s native wildlife by establishing a National Wildlife Corridors Program that facilitates the designation of wildlife corridors on federal lands and provides grants to protect wildlife corridors on non-federal lands.

“Wildlands Network thanks Sen. Udall and Rep. Beyer for their commitment to protecting America’s wildlife,” said Susan Holmes, policy director for Wildlands Network, a nonprofit conservation organization working to establish a continental system of connected wildlife corridors. “From elk to grizzlies to the beautiful monarch butterfly, wildlife needs to move across the landscape to survive. Corridors increase wildlife movement between habitat areas by approximately 50 percent compared to areas not connected by corridors. In the face of climate change, protecting wildlife corridors will ensure America’s treasured wildlife will survive for generations to come.”

Wildlife corridors are critically important habitat areas that allow animals to roam freely from one area of habitat to another for migration, establishing new territories, and finding mates, food and shelter. Linking habitats with wildlife corridors also allows wildlife to adapt to the serious impacts of a changing climate.

“America’s wilderness has sustained our treasured native fish, wildlife and plant species for hundreds of years, but this vital part of our national heritage is in jeopardy,” said Sen. Udall. “The habitats and migration routes that our wildlife rely on to move and thrive are under increasing pressures, and our precious biodiversity along with it. In New Mexico, our millions of acres of public lands are home to thousands of iconic species—from the desert bighorns to whooping cranes to Gila trout—that could vanish if we fail to take bold action. These species are essential to our rich natural inheritance and agricultural and economic success, and are an important legacy to pass on to our children. By designating corridors that would connect these vital habitats to one another, we can ensure the survival of some of our most iconic species, from the monarch butterfly to the Louisiana black bear, and preserve our precious wildlife for future generations to come.”

“With roughly one in five animal and plant species in the U.S. at risk of extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation, one of the simplest yet most effective things we can do is to provide them ample opportunity to move across lands and waters,” said Rep. Beyer.

Much of the danger faced by our most endangered species stems from habitat loss due to fragmentation, climate change, and other causes. The best available science recommends connecting habitats to ensure the genetic strength of both threatened populations and biodiversity as a whole. Based on this sound science, the bill is supported by nationally recognized scientists, including Harvard’s Dr. E.O. Wilson, and over 160 prominent conservation organizations nationwide.

“The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act would provide the most important step of any single piece of legislation at the present time in enlarging the nations protected areas and thereby saving large swaths of America’s wildlife and other fauna and flora, especially in this critical time of climate change and shifting locations of the original environments in which a large part of biodiversity has existed,” renowned biologist E.O. Wilson said of the bill.

The Act grants authority to key federal agencies to designate National Wildlife Corridors on federal public land and creates a Wildlife Movement Grant Program to incentivize the protection of wildlife corridors on non-federal lands. It also establishes a publicly available Wildlife Connectivity Database to inform decision-making.  Through this coordinated approach, the bill would also improve wildlife-related recreational opportunities and has therefore garnered support from major outdoor brands like Patagonia, Osprey Packs and Petzl America.

Wildlife species in need of protected corridors include the pronghorn antelope, an important game species in the Southwest, whose survival depends upon the ability to migrate seasonally. Even small insects like the monarch butterfly need protected corridors to migrate up to 3,000 miles. It can take 3-4 generations to complete a full migration, and without protected places along the flyway for them to rest and reproduce, the species could be lost entirely.

“America needs more tools to protect plants and animals,” stated Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “Wildlife corridors are a no-brainer. They’re a life-saving measure not only because they decrease collisions with cars, but also because they preserve biodiversity and habitats—providing us with clean air, replenishing our drinking water, and supplying a storehouse of potential new medicines.”

“Defenders commends Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Don Beyer for their leadership in protecting America’s diverse wildlife in the face of climate change and a mass extinction crisis.  The legislation they introduced today draws all Americans into the effort to ensure that wildlife can continue to move freely across our nation’s landscapes, as they must to survive,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife.

“The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act will provide a crucial lifeline for many of America’s native species,” stated Rob Ament, Senior Conservationist at the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, “so they can safely move across America’s landscapes to meet their daily, seasonal and lifetime needs.”

Increasingly, wildlife corridors are enjoying bipartisan support around the country. In the last decade, the Western Governors Association and the New England Governors and Canadian Premiers both adopted wildlife corridor protection measures.  Earlier this year, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke issued Secretarial Order 3362, which would improve “habitat quality in Western big-game winter range and migration corridors.” In addition, both red and blue states such as New Hampshire, Wyoming, New Mexico and California have recently passed measures to protect wildlife corridors.

Text of the bill can be read here.

Wildlands Network created a fact sheet for the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act, as well as facts sheets for potential impacts of the bill on specific species, including grizzly bears, monarch butterflies, Louisiana black bears, migratory birds, Florida panthers and pronghorns.

Photos and videos available to the media can be viewed in this Google Drive folder. Photos and videos are also available via email upon request.




Wildlands Network envisions a world where nature is unbroken, and where humans co-exist in harmony with the land and its wild inhabitants. Our mission is to reconnect, restore, and rewild North America so life in all its diversity can thrive.

The Endangered Species Coalition is a national network of hundreds of conservation, scientific, education, religious, sporting, outdoor recreation, business and community organizations working to protect our nation’s disappearing wildlife and last remaining wild places.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.

The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation fosters a knowing stewardship of our world through biodiversity research and education initiatives that promote and inform worldwide preservation of our biological heritage. We believe that by enhancing our public understanding of biodiversity, we can foster a culture of stewardship in which people are inspired to conserve and protect the natural world.

Center for Large Landscape Conservation strategically connects ideas, individuals, and institutions to catalyze collaboration and amplify progress towards the imperative of our time: to conserve Earth’s resilient, vital large landscapes.

Pollinator Protectors Project

Spotlight on: Nez Perce National Historical Park

Coauthored by: Jeanne Dodds, ESC Creative Engagement Director and Heidi Tamm, Nez Perce National Historical Park

What is a Pollinator Protector habitat? It is a space, small or large, dedicated to plantings of native plants supporting pollinators. Thoughtfully selected and locally sourced plants provide food sources for pollinators who in turn provide the essential service of pollination. Pollinator Protectors gardens provide habitat in space where plants that pollinators require may be absent, such as urban areas with limited green space, areas covered by lawns, or locations where appropriate plants once thrived but have been extirpated. Pollinator Protectors gardens renew and support habitat for native species.

One of the Pollinator Protectors sites that the Endangered Species Coalition works with is the Nez Perce National Historical Park in Spaulding, Idaho. The area immediately surrounding the visitor center at Nez Perce National Historical Park was historically all manicured turf grass. To reduce the amount of watering and maintenance required in these areas, Natural Resource staff converted one of the grassy areas into a pollinator garden. Staff researched a variety of native species most suitable to plant, i.e. those that are drought tolerant and self-sufficient. Over twenty-five species were chosen and with the help of volunteers on National Public Lands Day in 2016 and 2017, plants were out planted into the garden. Since then, the plants have grown quite nicely and attracted a variety of pollinator species. The garden has also attracted the attention of many visitors. Thus, an effort has been placed on using the pollinator garden as a tool to promote awareness of the importance of planting species beneficial to pollinators. Another focus is to maintain the pollinator garden long-term so it continues providing habitat for pollinators in our area.

Nez Perce National Historical Park is just one of the fifteen sites nationally that ESC partnered with for our fall 2018 planting cycle. To create these relationships, ESC provides small grants to planting sites; in turn these locations consult with state native plant societies for plant and nursery recommendations. ESC is growing this effort, developing educational materials and building new partnerships. We envision this work expanding and deepening in 2019 and the years ahead. We invite you to contact us if you are interested in participating in the Pollinator Protectors project as a planting site, funder or other partner.



Local Interests Come Together to Protect Threatened Jumping Mouse

I like to say that I work on the “people-side” of wildlife conservation. Most of the time, my days consist of me vigorously typing emails, reading policy, having conference calls, and giving presentations. I spend the majority of my waking life working to protect wildlife, but you know, I hardly get to see them.  

Photo credit: Boulder County Parks and Open Space

Which is why I was completely psyched when the opportunity to get out in the field presented itself. Earlier this month, the Endangered Species Coalition teamed up with Boulder County Parks and Open Space and local business, Bluebird Botanicals, to do habitat restoration for the federally-threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mouse.

The Preble’s is our western jumping mouse here in Colorado. This subspecies is found only on the Colorado Front Range and southeastern Wyoming. These little guys have long hind feet for jumping, a tail that’s longer than their body, and a dark stripe down the middle of their back. They live in riparian habitats (near streams and other sources of water) and are mostly nocturnal. They hibernate in the winter (so jealous…) and emerge typically in May.  

Over the last century, extensive habitat loss and fragmentation due to development, water diversions, overgrazing, water pollution, and mining have resulted in a rapid decline of Preble’s populations.

In addition to threats from habitat destruction, the mouse is also facing threats in Congress. Colorado’s very own Congressman Doug Lamborn introduced a rider in this year’s Interior Appropriations bill that would prohibit the use of funding to recover the mouse. The mouse’s conservation status is seen as a threat to development interests and some members of Congress are attempting to thwart their recovery.

So! In an effort to help restore Preble’s habitat in Boulder County, participating partners from government, non-profit, and business interests intersected to do some real good for an endangered species! Together, we planted about 200 roses, snowberries, hawthorns, currants, and willows.  All of which will provide habitat for the Preble’s as they continue to recover and expand their habitat.

Kyra Siva-Wise, CPO at Bluebird Botanicals, shared her experience with us: “I loved this project and so did all of our employees that participated. It’s not only a great team building experience, our employees loved being to restore a natural habitat. As people who deeply care about the planet, it meant a lot to give back in this way. I would encourage more companies to get involved in projects like this. It builds stronger teams, helps the planet, and makes happy employees. A win for all!”

The Endangered Species Coalition was thrilled to be a part of this project. Convening partners from multiple sectors for wildlife conservation is probably our most favorite thing to do! We want to thank Bluebird Botanicals and Boulder County Parks and Open Space for making this project happen!

If you’re like me, and your normal day-to-day unfortunately doesn’t include being out in nature and helping animals like a Disney Princess (or Prince), you can still help the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and their backstop, the Endangered Species Act. Sign and share this petition asking our decision makers to protect our nation’s wildlife!

The Midterm results could be the difference between extinction and conservation

The 2018 midterm election could determine the fate of the Endangered Species Act and how hard we have to fight to keep wolves, grizzly bears, and sage grouse safe from political attacks.

What we and our neighbors do on November 6th could dictate the fate of endangered and threatened species for the next several years. By choosing to vote, we can take part in the most effective and meaningful individual action to protect plants, fish, and wildlife.

Hopefully, you are registered to vote but if not you may still be able to register on Election Day.

Check your voter registration or find registration information at the Native Plant Conservation Campaign/Endangered Species Coalition Endangered Species Voter Action Center.

What’s at stake

Every member of the House of Representatives and 35 members of the Senate are facing re-election. Many of these contests are predicted to be very close and your vote could make the difference between members of Congress who attempt scores of attacks on the Endangered Species Act and ones who do not.

Photo credit NPS

Knowledge is power

Knowing who is on the ballot is the second step in being a prepared voter. You can look up all of the candidates that will be asking for your vote on our Endangered Species Voter Action Center.

You can use the links below to evaluate the voting records and campaign contribution sources of incumbent members of Congress:

Scorecards & Policy Positions

Defenders of Wildlife Scorecard

VoteSmart (for national, state and local elected officials)

Open Secrets

Federal Elections Committee

After you have determined who deserves your support, you need to know where to go to vote. Polling locations are often moved. Even if you think you remember where you voted the last time you cast a ballot, please double check. You can look up your polling place on our Endangered Species Voter Action Center.

Are you in college?

If you are a student, you can can vote in your home state or the state in which you are attending college. Visit this site to learn more.

Ex-offenders can vote!

It is a myth that all ex-offenders cannot vote. Rules are governed by state. Respect My Vote has every state’s requirements.

Need a ride?

Getting to the polling place can be a challenge but it should absolutely not stop you from voting! Please visit to find free rides to the polls on Election Day.

Vote early!

It is crucial that you and all of your neighbors vote. Democracy works best when it is participated in and as detailed above, wildlife needs for you to cast your vote. Please vote early if allowed in your state and remember to vote on Election Day. Need a reminder? Sign up for a text on Election Day.

You’ve already voted?

If you have already voted, or want to do more, please consider signing up to be poll watcher in your area.