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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

REGION 8: Service, San Diego Zoo Celebrate Endangered Species Day with Recovery Champion and Youth Art Contest Winners

Region 8, May 21, 2011

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined with the San Diego Zooin honoring people working to save endangered species in the Pacific Southwest region on Friday, May 20.

Michael Mace, Curator of Birds at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and winner of  the Recovery Champion Award was honored for his essential work in recovering endangered California condors and Light-footed clapper rails, among other species. In addition, Amy Cheu, grand prize winner of the Endangered Species Day Youth Art contest and second place winner Joshua Kudar were also recognized for their incredible art work.
 
Endangered Species Day is organized by the Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Coalition, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and Ogden Museum of Southern Art/University of New Orleans to advocate in the name of imperiled plants and animals, as well as commend successes in helping these species recover from extinction.
 
During the awards ceremony, Andy Yuen, Project Leader for the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex (NWRC), touched on Michael Mace’s strengthening of the partnership between the Service and SD Zoo, SeaWorld, and Chula Vista Nature Center. Jesse Grantham, California condor coordinator at the Hopper Mountain NWRC, recalled working with Mace when they began advocating for the capture and breeding of California condors after the birds’ population went into a steep decline in the late 1970s.  
 
Mace, on important California condor breakthroughs: “There have been significant milestones. One milestone was when we brought all the birds in to save them from extinction while issues in the environment were being resolved. Another milestone was the fact that we were actually able to work with the species and produce offspring that ultimately were released into the wild. And one of the great milestones we have to this day is we’re coming up on almost 200 condors flying free in the wild. And now some of those birds are raising their own offspring in historic sites where their ancestors have (reproduced). We have overcome some of the challenges for the species now. But as we move forward with that, the success will exponentially grow. So what we’re looking for ultimately is a population of condors in the wild that are thriving on their own without intervention or additional care. That’s the ultimate goal.”
 
Sandy Vissman, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Carlsbad, also won a Recovery Champion award for her work with the San Clemente Island loggerhead shrike. The third award went to members of the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe (Virginia Sanchez, Jerry Millett) in Nevada, who restored the Railroad Valley springfish through a Safe Harbor Agreement in the two thermal springs on the Reservation, establishing self-sustaining populations of the tiny fish.
 
President of San Diego Zoo Global, Fredrick D. Frye, and master of ceremonies for that morning, did the honors of presenting award certificates for the two San Diego-native Endangered Species Day Youth Art Contest winners. Amy Cheu, 18, of Rancho Peñasquitos created an image of a green sea turtle struggling with crude oil on the beach, and won the grand prize–a round-trip flight to Washington, DC, to attend a reception in May, a gift certificate for art supplies, and her name engraved on a special trophy designed by a young artist, Meredith Graf of New Orleans, LA.  Also, a finalist for his drawing of an Ozark Hellbender, Joshua Kudar, 11, won a special plaque and a gift certificate for art supplies, in the 3-5th grade category. In addition, the winning artists’ teachers or youth group leaders will receive gift certificates for classroom art supplies. The winning artists work is currently on exhibition at the Ogden Museum in New Orleans.
 
A representative from San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox’s office provided his congratulations and presented the award certificates to the winning students. 
 
These students’ art work presents the wonder and reason behind saving imperiled species . It is because of this partnership between government, non-government, and future leaders, that work to recover endangered species is possible.
 
There are things that everyone can do to help endangered species. Mace reminds us that there are a lot of great initiatives at the city level and the county level with regards to conservation. It can be as simple as putting certain types of plants in your yard that animals living in the neighborhood might feed from — hummingbirds, finches, etc. These can create wildlife corridors, so as the animals move around, they have places where they can stop over to nest, feed or live. 

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov