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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

Protecting the Chimpanzee Here and Abroad

I recently returned from Africa, where I saw firsthand the threats facing many of the continent’s most beloved wildlife species. Meeting with dedicated people and organizations working on the ground to protect wild populations of elephants, rhinos, and great apes helped me understand just how much the support and leadership of the United States means in this fight.

But it was the wild chimpanzees I didn’t see, actually, that reinforced what the Fish and Wildlife Service’s exhaustive, two year-long review of the status of the chimpanzee has found. Our recent review confirms that the chimpanzee is in trouble, and needs strong Endangered Species Act protections both in the wild and in captivity.

Mother and baby chimp climbing in tree. The baby is touching its mother's chin.
Chimpanzees Bahati and her baby Baroza at Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Credit: © the Jane Goodall Institute

That’s why we’ve taken action to protect all chimpanzees as endangered. 


Seeds Well Planted – for All Americans to Harvest

When I think back on the events that shaped my outlook on life, and the values that guided me to where I am today, I inevitably return to my experiences in the field and on the water as a hunter, angler and boater.

I’m proud of my achievements in the classroom and as a biologist. But that education truly began in the outdoors, guided by my father and other sportsmen and women.

Hunting with my Dad and brothers taught me the importance of preparation. Selecting the right spot to hunt. Setting your blind and decoys strategically. Learning and practicing calls.

Dan with a shad. Photo by USFWS

Fishing taught me persistence. Some days you go out and don’t get a bite. Others, you lose your favorite fly or fail to land the big one. But still, you head out and cast the line, waiting for a strike.

Boating taught me attention to detail. Whether you own a bass boat, a skipjack or a flat-bottomed jonboat, you have to maintain it rigorously. You have to understand nautical charts and navigation intimately, and account for the weather whenever you’re out on the water.

Most of all, spending time in the outdoors taught me the value of discipline – and the rewards of working toward a larger goal. Nature functions across seasons and generations – it doesn’t accommodate our desire for instant gratification.


Celebrating the Endangered Species Act

We can all be part of local Endangered Species Day events that will educate and motivate others, and we can all work to further the recovery of imperiled species.

America’s native fish, wildlife and plants – and the habitat that sustains them – are the foundation of the nation’s prosperity, as well as our people’s health and well-being. Our fate is inextricably linked to theirs – through the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the land that supports our communities.

Today, the 10th annual Endangered Species Day, provides a reminder of the personal stake we have in the health of our natural heritage, and in passing this heritage on to future generations of Americans. 

The bald eagle: a powerful symbol of the Endangered Species Act. Photo by Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

Since the Endangered Species Act (ESA) became law in 1973, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our partners have worked to stabilize populations and prevent the extinction of hundreds of species, while reversing population declines and putting hundreds more species on the road to recovery.  In fact, more than 99 percent of the species protected under the Act have been saved from extinction.

In addition, we’ve been able to celebrate the full recovery of dozens of additional species, including the American alligator, bald eagle and peregrine falcon, after the ESA kept them from disappearing forever.

None of these accomplishments would be possible without the ESA, which has enabled us to forge enduring partnerships among government at all levels, conservation and industry organizations, and private landowners dedicated to species protection and recovery – while also ensuring the country continues to prosper.

In the last six years alone, almost two dozen species have either been recovered and delisted, or are now proposed for delisting. I’m proud to be a part of the Obama Administration, which has worked with partners to delist more species due to recovery than any prior administration.


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