Friday, May 21, 2010

Be Part of Endangered Species Day!


Started by the Senate in 2006, Endangered Species Day is celebrated every year on the third Friday in May. This year's momentous 5th anniversary Endangered Species Day promises to be the most engaging yet.

Endangered Species Day Resolution and Proclamation

Recently, the Endangered Species Day resolution was unanimously passed in the U.S. Senate. The resolution (S. Res. 503) “encourages the people of the United States to become educated about and aware of threats to species, success stories in species recovery and the opportunity to promote species conservation worldwide and to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

Each year, over 100 events are held at parks, refuges, schools and museums around the nation. Events will be held at the United States Capitol, United States Botanic Garden, the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Maine Wildlife Park, the Bozeman Fish Hatchery, and many other locations!

We've detailed all of the exciting events and activities for you to be part of at our Endangered Species Day website. Also there, you can find a comprehensive Endangered Species Day toolkit to plan last minute events, including educational materials, media materials and outreach materials.

Endangered Species Day Landmark Events

Endangered Species Day at the U.S. Botanic Garden
100 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20002
Friday, May 21, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

The U.S. Botanic Garden is one of many botanic gardens worldwide that actively participate in the conservation of endangered species by maintaining live specimens in their collections, studying wild plants at risk, banking seeds of rare plants, and introducing rare plants to the horticultural trade. As one of 62 repositories for plants that have been seized by customs agents through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Botanic Garden accepts and cares for orchids and succulents. The event will focus on endangered plants and their relationship to pollinators and the environment.

Endangered Species Day at the Chula Vista Nature Center
Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
Chula Vista, California
Friday, May 21, 10:30 AM

The Chula Vista Nature Center is a living, breathing, flapping, buzzing and splashing home to the unique animals and plants of Southern California. The Nature Center aquariums are home to Moray eels, Leopard sharks, stingrays, guitarfish and other marine life found in San Diego Bay. Rescued birds thrive at exhibits like Raptor Row and Eagle Mesa. Owls, pelicans, gnatcatchers and eagles are just a few of our resident native birds. The Nature Center partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, and independent biologists to captive - breed and release one of California's most endangered water birds - the Light-footed Clapper Rail.

Golden Gate National Park Endangered Species Weekend
San Francisco, CA
May 21, 22 & 23, 2010

At the Golden Gate National Park there are more federally protected species than any other unit of the National Park System in continental North America: more than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks combined! This is an opportunity to learn more about the many species in the park, It is also an opportunity to write about all the work that is being done to help, and why the Park is so important to the residents of San Francisco and Marin County. California red-legged frog, coho salmon, mission blue butterfly, Presidio clarkia are but a few of the species that will be focused on this weekend.

We really hope that you can participate in an Endangered Species Day event near you. To find more information about these and other events, please see the full events list on our website. Happy Endangered Species Day!

Panther Pride! Take Action On Endangered Species Day With Eco-Schools USA

This post is an Endangered Species Day guest post by National Wildlife Federation. It is a part of our occasional series by Endangered Species Coalition Member Organizations.

By Amanda C. Cooke
Communications Associate
National Wildlife Federation

Coming up this Friday, Endangered Species Day is a time for students, families and wildlife enthusiasts to learn about local species and their habitats. Currently, there are 1,324 endangered species in the United States—750 plants and 574 animals are listed.

This week, we’re challenging you to learn at least one new plant or animal that is endangered in your area. Share with us a species you learned about and want to protect—post it on Facebook, blog about it, Tweet with hashtag #speciesday, or even comment below. Check out www.nwf.org/esday to learn more about Endangered Species Day 2010.

Panther, puma, cougar, mountain lion, catamount: which is it?

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The names written above are often used interchangeably; technically they are all common names for one species of wild cat called puma concolor. My high school’s mascot was the panther, even though the cats were maliciously hunted and eradicated from the Hudson Valley years ago. Only one subspecies of the nation’s largest cat remains in the eastern United States—the Florida panther. Although added to the Endangered Species List in 1973, there are fewer than 100 Florida panthers left in the wild.

Eco-Schools USA engages our future leaders

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While growing up, the classroom setting helped inculcate in me an awareness of our planet’s need for conservation stewardship. NWF hosts the Eco-Schools USA program to help boost schoolwide energy efficiency, reduce consumption, inspire the next generation of climate scientists, and develop a more global perspective. The program, now in 38 states and growing, is part of an international network of more than 30,000 schools. Want to learn more or register your school? Just visit ecoschoolsusa.org.

I look forward to hearing about your local wildlife!

Resources

Visit our Wildlife Library to learn about the Florida panther and other species of precious wildlife.

How many endangered species are currently listed in your state? Click here to search by location.

Read the Endangered Species Coalition’s press release on Endangered Species Day here.

Photo Credit: Florida panther by Flickr's Monica R.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Senate Unanimously Declares May 21st Endangered Species Day

By Leda Huta
Executive Director
Endangered Species Coalition

It isn’t often enough that we hear good news about wildlife. But, we do have something to celebrate right now when it comes to the native wildlife, fish, birds and plants that live within our borders. Late last week, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution, declaring May 21st as Endangered Species Day.


The resolution (S. Res. 503) “encourages the people of the United States to become educated about and aware of threats to species, success stories in species recovery and the opportunity to promote species conservation worldwide and to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

The resolution was sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), along with Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Carl Levin (D-MI), John Kerry (D-MA), and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ.)

Started by the United States Senate in 2006, this year will be the 5th annual Endangered Species Day. Every year, parks, wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, museums, libraries, schools, scout troops and community organizations hold Endangered Species Day events on the third Friday of May.

Remembering our victories in endangered species protections is exactly what we need at a time like this when our work to protect wildlife and habitats along the Gulf Coast is so heartbreaking. Despite the setbacks that occur, it is remarkable that the United States has made an enduring promise to the plants and creatures that share our country. By enacting the Endangered Species Act, we made a legal guarantee that to the best of our ability and resources, we the American people, would ensure that wildlife, fish, birds and plants shall live and flourish in our nation.

Few, if any, other countries have made, and followed through, on such a noble and moral commitment to respect the living things that share our land. Yes, we at the Endangered Species Coalition and most of our member groups want to see even more done to protect those species that are teetering on the edge of extinction. However, Endangered Species Day, is a time for all of us to step back and recognize just how far we’ve come.

If it weren’t for the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, conservation organizations, and citizens across the country, a number of species would have gone extinct in the past three decades since the Act was passed.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Endangered Species Act has helped to prevent the extinction of hundreds of species.

“The Endangered Species Act is the nation’s premier law protecting biodiversity today,” said Acting Service Director Rowan Gould. “The bald eagle, 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 still listed species that are showing good progress towards achieving recovery — the ultimate goal of the ESA. These species and many others continue to benefit from the protections afforded by the ESA and the dedicated people who work through the Act to ensure their continued existence.”

For instance, the eastern population of the Peregrine falcon was extinct and the western population was at only 324 nesting pairs in 1975. Today, there are between 2,000 and 3,000 breeding pairs in North America. The Kirtland’s warbler was down to just 201 pairs in the early 1970s, but has been bouncing back and reached 1,414 pairs in 2005. One of the most endangered amphibians in the country, the Wyoming toad, is on the road to recovery with more than 100,000 Wyoming toadlets released since 1994. A critically endangered butterfly, Lange’s metalmark butterfly has seen its numbers rise from only 158 in 2006 to 367 in 2008. The Endangered Species Act has saved these and many more species from extinction, the California condor, the Florida manatee, the Whooping crane, the Karner blue butterfly, the American alligator, the Pygmy rabbit, the Bald eagle, the Aleutian Canada goose, Robbins’ cinquefoil, Shortnose sturgeon, and the list goes on.

It is these kinds of successes that we celebrate on Endangered Species Day. This year, states across the country will hold celebrations, including four landmark events to be held at the U.S. Botanic Gardens, the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Maine Wildlife Park, and the Bozeman Fish Hatchery. Participants at Endangered Species Day events will be able to restore habitat for the New England Cottontail Rabbit, look for endangered birds on the San Francisco Bay, see endangered fish at the Bozeman Fish Hatchery and learn about endangered plants and pollinators at the U.S. Botanic Gardens.

We can’t survive without the animals and plants that grace this planet. Sustaining the earth’s ecosystems is necessary for our own lives—providing the air we breathe, the water we drink, the medicines that cure us, the food that sustains us, and the recreation that rejuvenates our spirits. The wondrous web-of-life that comprises nature continues to astound us with its complexity.

Please join us in celebrating our natural world’s beauty and diversity and America’s commitment to keeping it that way. Find an event near you at http://www.EndangeredSpeciesDay.org.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

BP Oil Spill a Disaster for Species

The BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is a potent and anguishing reminder of the unacceptable consequences of oil development. The disaster has already taken human lives and now puts at risk communities along the Gulf Coast, an important fishery, and sensitive wetlands that are home to over 400 species.

As millions of gallons of oil from the April 20th explosion continue to churn in the Gulf, the potential effects on endangered wildlife remain unclear. The majority of the millions of gallons of oil leaked is still looming off shore, suspended by adverse weather. While this is giving organizations time to prepare for on shore rescue efforts, it's unwelcome news for already at risk species.

25% of the wetlands in the United States are in the area of the spill and it is home to as many as 20 National Wildlife refuges. Species such as the Brown Pelican, that was only removed from the Endangered Species List last year, are nesting directly in the path of the spill. Exposure to oil can cause birds to become unable to fly, stay afloat or stay warm as the oil seeps into their feathers. A 2005 oil spill of a much smaller scale was responsible for the deaths of 700 brown pelicans.

The Gulf wetlands are home to a variety of beach nesting shorebirds, turns and gulls. They are especially vulnerable as they nest on the sandy beaches and rely on fish for food sources. Many of these bird species are endangered, including the least tern, and piping plover. The spill could be disastrous for a wide variety of birds. Large wading birds, such as great blue herons, egrets and ibises are native to the area and will be at risk if oil comes ashore. The millions of migratory birds that use the areas estuaries, bays, marshes inlets and creeks as stopover sites will also be vulnerable if the oil comes further ashore.

Six of the world's seven species of sea turtles live in the Gulf, all are listed as either threatened or endangered, including the loggerhead and critically endangered Kemp's ridley. The turtles were having a difficult season before the spill, with unusually large numbers suddenly and mysteriously washing ashore. Worse, the spill is occurring during peak nesting season for 5 of the 6 turtle species. Sea turtles lay their eggs in what could become oil covered sandy beaches and oil exposed eggs and hatchlings could decimate their population for years to come.


Like sea turtles, marine mammals such as endangered sperm whales, manatees, bottlenose dolphins and porpoises are at double risk as they have pass through the oily surface in order to breathe. That's causing them to have to interact with the spill both below water and with the expanding surface slick. As they rise to breathe they're potentially inhaling both the oil itself and the toxic gaseous vapors emitted by the spill. It would be a debacle for baleen whales, that have baleen filters that could get coated in oil, which would prevent them from eating.

The spill came at an especially bad time and place for the critically endangered bluefin tuna. The giant fish, which can grow to as large as 1500 lbs., is already in steep decline due to overfishing driven largely by a premium market price in sushi restaurants. Compounding their plight, this is their spawning season and the spill occurred in one of their preferred breeding locations, meaning they will be swimming and releasing their eggs into the worst of the oil fouled sea waters.
In addition, the threatened gulf sturgeon are congregating in coastal waters and may be affected.


According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “
Oil has the potential to persist in the environment long after a spill event and has been detected in sediment 30 years after a spill. On sandy beaches, oil can sink deep into the sediments. In tidal flats and salt marshes, oil may seep into the muddy bottoms. Effects of oil in these systems have the potential to have long-term impacts on fish and wildlife populations.”

Environmental emergency responders and monitors, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, are working to assess the impacts of the oil spill on our ocean, coasts and wildlife. It is of the utmost urgency that government agencies be armed with the resources they need in order to address the cleanup and recovery needs of Gulf Coast residents, businesses, wildlife, and marine life.


Please ask President Obama to protect our oceans, coasts and endangered wildlife from oil drilling.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Endangered Species Day Art Contest Ceremony

The grand prize winner of the Endangered Species Day Art Contest, Carter Schroeder, and his father joined us in Washington, D.C. yesterday afternoon for a reception and award ceremony at the Rayburn House Office Building. Carter is the creator of the judges' grand prize selection, Polar Bear and Beluga Whale.


Carter was presented with his award, crafted by Meredith Graf who also was in attendance to receive an award of her own.


ESC's Executive Director Leda Huta addressed the hundreds in attendance about the importance of Endangered Species Day and recognized the Honorable Senator Whitehouse and his staff for their work in crafting a Senate resolution making May 21st, 2010 Endangered Species Day.



Columbus Zoo Director Emeritus Jack Hanna spoke passionately about the need to engage younger generations in taking care of our environment and the critical role zoos and aquariums play in that.


Following Jack Hannah is no easy task, but the celebrity guest animals in attendance from the Maryland Zoo stole the show.


A few of the species on hand were the kit fox, Burmese python, flamingo, Iberian lynx, American Alligator, Prehensile-tailed skink and African Bullfrog.


Our great thanks to everyone who participated in the Endangered Species Day Art Contest, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for allowing us to be part of their event and to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for partnering with us on the Endangered Species Day Art Contest.

Photo Credit: Beverly Orr/Endangered Species Coalition