Fish and Wildlife Service Celebrates Endangered Species Day
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2009
On May 15, 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will honor Endangered Species Day and the numerous nationwide conservation programs underway aimed at protecting America’s threatened and endangered species.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA), one of the most important environmental laws in history, is credited with saving 99.9 percent of species protected by the ESA from extinction. Co-administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the purpose of the ESA is to conserve imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.
When Congress passed the ESA in 1973, it formally established that our rich natural heritage is of “esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people.” It also expressed concern that many of our nation’s native fish, wildlife, and plants were in danger of becoming extinct.
“The Endangered Species Act is the nation’s premier law protecting biodiversity today,” said Acting Fish and Wildlife Service Director Rowan Gould. “Without this law, we would probably not see bald eagles soaring in our skies or grizzlies in Yellowstone. Endangered Species Day provides an opportunity to celebrate our shared successes and look forward to a strengthened partnership with the American public to conserve our natural treasures of fish, wildlife, and plants.”
The Service works with other federal agencies, State and tribal governments, environmental organizations, industry groups, species experts, academia, the scientific community, and other members of the public to conserve our Nation’s threatened and endangered fish, wildlife, and plants.
"Now, more than ever before, we need the contributions of our partners to achieve recovery and conservation of America's imperiled species," said Endangered Species Assistant Director Bryan Arroyo. "Leveraging the resources, experience and expertise of a wide range of partners is vital to our combined success."
The bald eagle, grizzly bear, American alligator and gray wolf are all species which once found themselves on the list, facing the brink of extinction but have successfully rebounded. The wood stork, Kirtland’s warbler, Louisiana black bear and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle are listed species that are showing good progress towards achieving recovery – the ultimate goal of the ESA. These recovered and recovering species are just a few examples of those benefiting from the protections afforded by the ESA and the dedicated people who work to ensure their continued existence.
There are currently 1,317 species listed in the United States: 746 plants and 571 animals. In the Southeast, there are over 320 endangered and threatened animals and plants. To find out what endangered species are near you, and how you can help, please visit www.fws.gov/endangered.
The Southeast Region is proud to be holding its second annual region-wide celebration of Endangered Species Day. A variety of events are being offered that include direct involvement in implementing recovery actions, fun interactive educational displays and presentations, media broadcasts, and working directly with students in creative ways to help them learn more about recovering listed species.
“We are excited about educating our local communities about endangered species,” said . Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Endangered Species Day is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing past and present recovery successes under the Endangered Species Act.”
During the month of May, and especially on May 15, the actual Endangered Species Day, several Endangered Species Day activities and events are scheduled across the Southeast. For a complete list of fun 2009 events, please visit this website: http://www.fws.gov/southeast/es/recovery.htm
On May 15, in Puerto Rico, the Service is reintroducing a second population of a listed cactus, Harrisia portoricensis or Higo chumbo back into its native habitat in the Cabo Rojo area. Partners and the public will be joining the Service, getting their hands in the dirt, and doing a good thing for the species.
Also on May 15, the Service celebrates at the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida. Along with staff members from the zoo, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Service’s Jacksonville, Florida, Ecological Services Field Office will be stationed near the entrance area and at eight stations within the zoo to answer questions about endangered species and the Service. Visitors will be offered an Endangered Species Passport (checklist/coloring book) of Florida endangered species found at the zoo during their visit. The staff will be staged at exhibits offering information about wood stork nesting colonies, Florida panthers, bald eagles, whooping cranes, red wolves, eastern indigo snakes, gopher tortoises, alligators, manatees, and sea turtles. In addition, they will be highlighting the recovery progress being made on each of these species.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, please visit http://www.fws.gov or http://www.fws.gov/southeast.