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Endangered Species Day is a Success!
Photo Credit: FWS
By Kelly Ann Bibb and Seth Willey
Endangered Species Day, recognized by Congress since 2006 as the second full-week Friday in May, is a time to learn about endangered species, celebrate successes in their recovery, and gain a greater appreciation for what it takes to conserve a species and its habitat.
In May 2008, endangered species recovery biologists in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Region decided to make May 16 a day of celebration and fun. They joined their communities and partners to recognize continuing efforts and accomplishments made on behalf of the region’s 322 listed species. Service personnel made this day memorable for everyone they reached, accomplished some recovery actions during the celebration, and had fun recharging the passion for wildlife they share with the public. Here are some highlights:
The Lafayette, Louisiana, Field Office celebrated Endangered Species Day at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, May 16 to 18. About 4,500 people attended. The zoo did a television spot promoting activities at the zoo and encouraged people to attend. On May 16th, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries presented a display on manatee conservation. The Service targeted school groups with some hands-on activities and distributed information packets for teachers. The Louisiana Black Bear Conservation Committee also ran an activity called the Bear Maze. An exhibit-based, listed species scavenger hunt created by the Service was a hit with zoo education staffers.
The Service’s Arkansas Field Office celebrated Endangered Species Day May 9 and 10 at the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, in partnership with ECO, a non-profit conservation organization. Approximately 1,500 children and several hundred adults attended. The Service gave talks to school groups on topics such as freshwater mussel conservation and received radio, television, and newspaper coverage in response. The event was a great opportunity for outreach to the citizens of Arkansas about imperiled species of their own state.
Photo Credit: FWS
The Mississippi Field Office celebrated at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science on May 16 and 17. School groups and visitors heard presentations by Service staff and the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) "Friends" group on the Louisiana black bear, red-cockaded woodpecker, and the illegal wildlife trade (with an emphasis on sea turtles and alligators). One station at the exhibit included a trivia game on Mississippi’s endangered species. Museum educators did "Creature Feature" talks, complete with live animals, including the indigo snake and gopher tortoise. The American alligator was featured as a recovered species. The Service saw at least 500 students and enjoyed sharing recovery stories with many other museum visitors.
Endangered Species Day was also a big celebration in the Caribbean. Activities were conducted in multiple locations with Service recovery biologists and NWR biologists working together. At Vieques NWR, talks about listed species were provided to local elementary school students, and Service staff led a group of Girl Scouts through hiking trails and acquainted them with bats at night. Another night-time activity took place at Culebra NWR, where a group of students and community members patrolled sea turtle nesting sites with Service staff.
In Cabo Rojo NWR, talks about endangered species were provided to students from two schools located close to the refuge. They also planted about 50 native trees at the refuge, including endangered species such as Eugenia woodburyana, Goetzea elegans, and Cresentia portoricensis. In Sandy Point NWR on St Croix, the Service patrolled a sea turtle nesting site with a group of students and community members and saw three nesting turtles. In Gabia Commonwealth Forest, Coamo, personnel from Puerto Rico (PR) Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, PR National Parks, and the Service provided talks about endangered species to two schools. The same afternoon, a group of almost 40 students participated in the release of Puerto Rican crested toad tadpoles. We also planted 50 native trees, including the endangered Eugenia woodburyana. Students and community members got hands-on experience joining the Service and its local partners in conducting recovery actions for endangered species. "We are ready for the next year!" said Carlos Pacheco, a Service recovery biologist in Boqueron.
Photo Credit: FWS
The Asheville, North Carolina, Field Office’s May 17th event was another success. It had 12 children from the local high school’s eco-club paddling the Toe River looking for an endangered mussel, the Appalachian elktoe. John Fridell, the Service’s elktoe expert, was along on the trip, as were members of the local watershed group. A local rafting company, Loafer’s Glory, donated equipment and shuttle services. The Service provided snorkel gear and other viewing equipment. The group located two elktoes, one of which was found by a student. "We wanted to give students an opportunity to see first-hand the biodiversity found in the river, especially the endangered species found in their own backyard. It’s one thing to talk about a river, it’s another to feel the cold water around your legs, watch the fish around your feet, and see the big sky above. I hope, at the end of the day, everyone on the trip had a deeper appreciation for the Toe River," Fridell said. "From a science education standpoint, I think it was great that the students got to experience the river first-hand with professional biologists. Perhaps it will encourage them to think about career possibilities," said Mountain Heritage High School science teacher Gabrielle Riesner.
In eastern North Carolina, the Pocosin Lakes NWR, Alligator River NWR, and the entire red wolf recovery program celebrated at the Walter B. Jones, Sr., "Partnership for the Sounds" Visitor Center in Columbia. They put up displays for Endangered Species Day featuring the red wolf, red-cockaded woodpecker, and sea turtles.
The Frankfort, Kentucky, Field Office’s celebration on May 16th also went well. Groups represented at the event included the East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Federal Highway Administration, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, and the Service. Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest grew the plants used that day. All in attendance helped to plant endangered Short’s goldenrods back into their native habitat. A total of 125 plants were placed at the Beaver Creek Mitigation Site. There was an article on the event in the Lexington Herald-Leader the following Saturday.
The Panama City, Florida, Field Office held a poster contest involving local schools. A peer-teaching-peer approach was used, where students learned from their classmates. A select number of children learned from a Service mentor, then went back to school and taught their classmates. The schools, teachers, and kids were great. The resulting artwork was fantastic and the winner’s work was displayed in a local department store. "Each student who participated pledged to protect endangered species and the places they call home for the benefit of people and the world. The students who participated in the celebration are the leaders of tomorrow and will be responsible for species conservation, so it is vitally important for them to connect with the species that are found in their own backyard," said Janet Mizzi, Deputy Field Supervisor at the Panama City Office.
Photo Credit: FWS
The Service’s Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta celebrated in conjunction with our Georgia Field Office at several locations. Endangered Species Day was combined with Career Day at Montgomery Elementary School. We tailored classes about our red wolf program and Louisiana black bear recovery efforts. The kids were very excited and participated in the fun activities, including a follow-up coloring contest. We celebrated with the Dunwoody Nature Center concurrent with their annual Dream Gardens Tour, and brought in listed species for a plant-themed Endangered Species Day. In the afternoon, we took Endangered Species Day to all first graders and their teachers at Austin Elementary.
The Warm Springs Fish Hatchery in Georgia also celebrated with a monthlong coloring contest and displays at the hatchery that included educational materials on endangered species.
The Charleston, South Carolina, Field Office combined its celebration with International Migratory Bird Day on May 10th, in Ravenel. The wood storks was one of the endangered species featured during that event. The county park also expressed interest in being the permanent venue for this celebration in the future.
"Our celebration of Endangered Species Day was an opportunity to showcase success stories of partnership, vision, and dedication that have allowed us to make progress in recovering species." said Sam. D. Hamilton, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. It was the Region’s first celebration of this day, and Service volunteers reached a very large audience. We extend gratitude to everyone in the Service and all partners who helped.
Endangered Species Day celebrations were not limited to the Southeast. For example, the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Regional Office in Denver, Colorado, organized a program highlighting some of that region’s recovery efforts. The festivities included a presentation on Wyoming toad recovery, complete with live Wyoming toads, a presentation on gray wolf recovery in the northern Rockies, and a video ("Predators, Prey & People" by Wyoming Game and Fish) on cooperative conservation efforts to recover grizzly bears and wolves in Wyoming. The Regional Office also took the opportunity to announce the proposed rule to delist the Maguire daisy (Erigeron maguirei), a perennial herb of the sunflower family that occurs in Utah. Approximately fifty people participated in the celebration.
Kelly Ann Bibb, the Service’s Southeast Recovery Coordinator in Atlanta, Georgia, can be reached at 404- 679-7132 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Seth Willey, the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Regional Recovery Coordinator in Denver, Colorado, is available at 303-236- 4257 or email@example.com.
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