17 May 2013


The nation's most prominent conservation groups observe today as Endangered Species Day, with emphasis on public education and activism.  Among them ~

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) also recognizes the observance, no small irony since  it is precisely that agency which proposes removing the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act in all the contiguous 48 states, even though wolves have re-populated only a small fraction of the wild territory which could sustain them.  

In the three Rocky Mountain states (ID, MT, WY) and the several Great Lakes states (MI, WI, MN) where wolves have already been prematurely delisted, prompt state-licensed wolf hunting and trapping seasons have decimated wolf populations, which were just beginning to stabilize.  The irrational fervor for killing wolves has interrupted the scientific studies needed to determine whether they should even be considered for delisting, since many of the victims were adults wearing radio collars used to keep track of movement and numbers.

As with our perturbation of climate, so with our protection of endangered species ~ we caused the problem, and we need to take a considered, scientific approach to solving it.  Alas, there are virtually no scientists in Congress, and the state and federal agencies tasked with protecting wildlife are more concerned with "harvesting" wildlife, bowing to pressure from hunters and ranchers, who do not represent the public interest.

The gray wolf is only one example among hundreds, perhaps thousands of endangered mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and plants which humans have driven to the brink of extinction.  It is incumbent upon each of us not to be content with thinking "Oh, that's a shame."  Each of us must ACT ~ by joining one or more conservation groups, by signing petitions, by writing or calling our elected representatives on behalf of the creatures who have no voices.  Here is one place to get started.  Here is another.  And here is why the Endangered Species Act still matters 40 years after it was signed into law.

Part and parcel of activism is getting out into nature, and spending quiet time noticing the creatures who live there, and how they interact.  Your destination might be true back-country wilderness, miles from any road or house, or it might be a nearby park, wetland, or other habitat with sufficient plant growth and water to attract birds and animals.  When you come to regard such areas as part of your home, it becomes more natural to want to care for it.  Enjoy.

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