On May 17, 2013, we’ll celebrate the eighth annual Endangered Species Day.
|After nearly disappearing from most of the U.S., the bald eagle recovered and was removed from ESA protection in 2007. Photo by Peter Davis, USFWS|
And celebration is especially in order as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. During the last 40 years, plants and animals have continued to face a barrage of threats – habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and climate change – but the ESA reflects an unwavering national commitment to prevent species extinctions and to protect the habitat and ecosystems essential to species recovery. It is one of the world’s most powerful and successful conservation laws.
That success in saving species from extinction and helping them recover is fueled by the dedication and hard work of employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Because of their commitment to conservation, gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes, the American alligator, bald eagle and Tennessee purple coneflower have all fully recovered and no longer need federal protection. We can also celebrate that many other species, such as the black-footed ferret, whooping crane, karner blue butterfly and California condor have been brought back from the very brink of extinction and are making major strides in their path to recovery.
We have much success to celebrate but also much more work to do. The challenges the conservation world faces are daunting and growing, calling us to be more innovative, to create more conservation incentives and to work even more closely with our partners.
This Endangered Species Day, I encourage everyone to honor the great work of the many Service employees, partners and private citizens who have made this law work for species and people. Consider visiting a school, community group or other organization to talk about the unique natural resources our agency protects. Another way to show support is to participate in local events and other venues that will educate and motivate others to support endangered species conservation.
The Endangered Species Act reflects the special value our society places upon conservation of our native treasure of fish, wildlife and plants. Carrying out this charge, to preserve these species for future generations, is the highest calling of wildlife professionals. We have been fortunate it has been there for the past 40 years. Let’s work to ensure it is around for many more.
Happy Endangered Species Day!