Protecting Endangered Species

What is the problem? Animals and plants that are having trouble surviving in today's world are classified as either endangered or threatened.

  • Endangered Species - Those animals or plants with so few individual survivors that the species could soon become extinct over all or most of its natural range. (Examples include: the Whopping Crane in North America, the Giant Panda, the California Condor, the Snow Leopard and the Black Rhino.)
  • Threatened Species - Those animals or plants still abundant in their natural range but declining in numbers and likely to become endangered. (Examples are: the Grizzly Bear and the American Alligator.)

What's being done? Since "extinct" is forever, biologists and environmentalists are working together to manage and protect biodiversity (the ability of many different species to thrive within a particular region). Here are three ways they do it:

  • Wildlife Management Approach - manages game species for sustained yield by using laws to regulate hunting, establishing harvest quotas, developing population management plans and using international treaties to protect migrating game species such as water fowl.
  • Ecosystem Approach - aims to preserve balanced populations of species in their native habitats, establish legally protected wilderness areas and wildlife reserves and eliminate alien species.
  • Species Approach - An emergency response, based on protecting endangered species by identifying them, giving them legal protection, preserving and managing their critical habitats, propagating them in captivity and reintroducing them in suitable habitats.

Protecting ecosystems is the best way to preserve species diversity because it tackles the problem before it becomes an emergency.

It's the Law!

Several United States Federal Laws and International treaties help protect endangered and threatened wild species around the world. The three most powerful laws are the Endangered Species Act, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act.

  • The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (amended in 1982 and 1988) is one of the world's toughest environmental laws. This law makes it illegal for Americans to import or trade in any product made from an endangered or threatened species unless it is used for an approved scientific purpose or to enhance the survival of the species. Also, the endangered species on this list cannot be hunted, killed, collected or injured in the United States.
  • Any decision to list or unlist a species must be based on biology only, not on economic considerations. The act also forbids federal agencies to carry out, fund or authorize projects that would either jeopardize an endangered or threatened species or destroy or modify its critical habitat - the land, air and water necessary for its survival.

    From 1970 -1993 the number of "found in United States only" species on the Endangered and Threatened list grew from 92 to 775.
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of 1975. As of 2007, this treaty, signed by 172 countries, lists over 5,000 animal species and over 28,000 plant species that cannot be commercially traded as live specimens or wildlife products because they are endangered or threatened. Unfortunately enforcement of this treaty isn't great. Convicted violators often pay only small fines and member countries can exempt themselves from protection of any listed species. Also, much of the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products goes on in countries that have not signed the treaty.
  • The Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of 1994. The United States Congress passed the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act to provide resources to conservation programs focused on saving these endangered species. Congress authorized $10 millionhn to provide for conservation of these animals annually.
Is any of this helping?

Yes, of course!! But the annual federal budget for protecting endangered species is less than what beer companies spend on two 30 second TV commercials during the Super Bowl. That means there's not enough money to evaluate the species now proposed for listing. Many species could vanish while they wait to be listed! That's why you need to help now.

Help Endangered Species

Check out Protecting Wildlife Resources & Preserving Biodiversity

Check out Environmental Organizations



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