This year’s celebration of Endangered Species Day brings a renewed urgency to the fight to protect imperiled species and the critical need for the Endangered Species Act.
Today is the annual Endangered Species Day and we are excited to celebrate all the endangered species we all care so much about! But we are also profoundly anxious. If congressional leaders have their way, today could be the last time we celebrate endangered species protection.
Back in 2006, Congress officially designated the third Friday in May as national Endangered Species Day—a celebration of our nation’s wildlife and wild places and the need to protect rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals.
Whether it’s the more commonly talked about gray wolf or Florida panther or the lesser known San Joaquin kit fox or scalloped hammerhead shark, endangered species are something an overwhelming majority of Americans are committed to helping preserve and protect for future generations.
Endangered Species and the ESA
Put very simply, endangered species are those species that are believed to be on the brink of extinction right now and threatened species are those that are likely to be in the near future. Endangered species enjoy all the protections under the ESA, whereas threatened species sometimes get reduced protections and can be managed more flexibility under the Act.
Since its enactment in 1973, the ESA has kept our most at-risk species from the fate of extinction with a 99% success rate. And yet, in just the last session of Congress (the 114th), the ESA faced more than 130 attacks, a trend that has only continued into this session with 24 attacks since January. And now there is a concerted congressional effort to gut or repeal the astonishingly successful anti-extinction law outright.
Much like our endangered wildlife, America’s legacy of protecting and restoring these imperiled species is at a critical turning point. Mounting attacks against the ESA, the strongest and most important federal law protecting wildlife and wild places, threaten to cripple its effectiveness by underfunding the ESA and calling for its “modernization” and “repeal and replacement.”
As we celebrate this Endangered Species Day, it seems more timely than ever to recognize not only our imperiled wildlife and wild places, but also the premier legislation protecting imperiled species from extinction and the need to fight harder for its survival.
Defenders remains steadfast in our commitment to hold Congress’ feet to the fire when it comes to the ESA. We will do everything in our power to not only preserve the ESA and all the endangered and threatened species it protects, but to secure better funding for the ESA so that species on the brink of extinction can get all the resources they need as they fight to survive.
Join the Fight to Protect Endangered Species Today!
Want to know more about what you can do this Endangered Species Day to help imperiled wildlife? Here are some simple things you can do to make a difference for imperiled wildlife.
- Tell Congress to protect the Endangered Species Act. You can sign up for our email to get the latest news and action alerts to keep up-to-date on the ESA.
- Learn about endangered species that live near you. Education is the first step in fostering an appreciation and understanding of the impact and importance of wildlife and their habitats. Make sure to also check out our website for more information.
- Protect wildlife habitat. Plant native species that encourage and provide habitat and resources for native wildlife species.
- Get out and explore our public lands. Gain a deeper appreciation for the places wildlife call home by visiting a wildlife refuge, park or other public land. A key to saving species on the brink of extinction is preserving their habitats. Wildlife recreation provides millions of jobs and supports local businesses all while helping support local wildlife. Many of these places also provide great opportunities to volunteer.
- Make your home wildlife friendly. There’s a lot you can do in your very own backyard to help wildlife like making sure to secure your garbage, feeding your pets indoors and locking pet doors at night, cleaning your bird baths regularly to prevent the spread of disease, placing decals on your windows to prevent birds from catastrophic collisions, avoid using pesticides and herbicides that are hazardous to wildlife.
- Drive more carefully. Slow down and be a more vigilant driver especially where you see signs warning of wildlife crossings. Many animals live in areas where roads provide a constant hazard, this is especially true for the Florida panther, one of the most endangered mammals in the U.S. Already 10 panthers have been killed in vehicle collisions this year.
- Be a responsible consumer. Know before you buy, especially if you are traveling overseas. Be careful not to purchase products made from illegal endangered or threatened wildlife like ivory, coral, tortoise shell, products that include fur from tigers, polar bears, monkeys, crocodile skin, bird feathers, etc.
- Join a local Endangered Species Day event in your community. Defenders and other organizations are putting on events in communities across the U.S. to celebrate Endangered Species Day. Find out what’s happening in your area.
Follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on the status of other developments important to wildlife conservation and our work. Don’t forget to sign up for our emails where you will get all the latest news and action alerts to support wildlife.