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A small woodpecker perched on a pine tree.
Information icon In 2018, there were 38 active clusters of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers on this property in Alabama, thriving there under a Safe Harbor Agreement. Composite photo by Mark Bailey.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honors Recovery Champions on Endangered Species Day

A woman in a red shirt holding a black snake
Michele Elmore of the Georgia Ecological Services Field Office. Photo by USFWS.

Endangered Species Day, May 17, is a day to celebrate efforts to recover 1,663 species on the list of federal endangered wildlife and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act. Across the country, state and federal agencies, businesses, private organizations and universities are partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve the nation’s natural diversity of wildlife and plants and their habitats.

This day provides opportunities for everyone to become aware of threats to these animals and plants and is an opportunity to promote species conservation worldwide. For example, the Service has partnered with the Endangered Species Coalition in its national Endangered Species Day youth art contest. In addition, many Service personnel across the country will join with zoos, botanical gardens and other places to celebrate this special day.

A man holding a snake in an office
Kenneth Blick of Welaka National Fish Hatchery. Photo by USFWS.

Service employees from Atlanta will join Atlanta Botanical Garden on June 1 at their Endangered Species Day event and celebration.

The Southeast Region is home to 424 endangered and threatened species. Each year on Endangered Species Day, the Service honors staff members and community partners whose outstanding work and dedication is contributing to these listed species’ recovery. They are our National Recovery Champions.

Southeast Region Recovery Champions for 2018

A woman holding a black snake in an outdoor enclosure
Michelle Hoffman, OCIC.

Eastern Indigo Snake Reintroduction Team

Kenneth Blick and Tony Brady of the Service’s Welaka National Fish Hatchery in Florida, Dr. Michele Elmore from the Service’s Georgia Ecological Services Office, and Michelle Hoffman from the Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation, in Eustis, Florida. The team created the first Service snake-rearing facility in Florida at the Welaka hatchery. In 2018, the partnership released its first 10 tagged snakes into Alabama’s Conecuh National Forest, and another 23 snakes are planned for release later this year. This first release generated excitement among the public, researchers, and partners, by returning an iconic species to the longleaf forest. This team’s efforts have filled in critical gaps in our knowledge of the species, as well as helped to secure its long-term viability and protection.

A man holding a black snake
Tony Brady at Welaka National Fish Hatchery. Photo by USFWS.

David Withers, zoologist with the Tennessee Division of Natural Areas’ Natural Heritage Inventory Program

Withers is being honored for his leadership in recovery of endangered, threatened, and at-risk invertebrate species. He has built strong conservation partnerships in Tennessee and has brought partners together, educating them on the importance of rare invertebrates and the role of healthy ecosystems.

In the last decade, Withers has been instrumental in providing scientific data for listing and recovery decisions and managing habitats to conserve listed and at-risk species. His monitoring and restoration efforts informed a status assessment for the Nashville crayfish, a major land purchase protecting the only known population of the painted snake coiled forest snail, and a determination that listing was not warranted for the Sequatchie caddisfly.

A man with a beard looks closely at an insect with a magnifying glass
Zoologist David Withers of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Thanks to his leadership, restoration work continues at Sequatchie Cave State Natural Area in Marion County, Tennessee, home of the Sequatchie caddisfly and endangered royal snail. He successfully removed an extensive infestation of Chinese privet and other invasive plants by combining tried and true methods and new experimental treatments. Instead of using chemicals, he enlisted eight sheep to help control invasive kudzu, the first such use within Tennessee state natural areas.


Elsie Davis, public affairs specialist, 404-679-7107

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 on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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