The dusky seaside sparrow is extinct. The last of these birds died
in 1987. These sparrows lost their homes as marshes were
destroyed. What would it have been like to hear them chirping in Florida's marshes? Since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock
in 1620, more than 500 species have become extinct in the
(Photo and text are courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Gray wolves are endangered in most of the lower 48 states. They
once roamed widely across North America. As predators, they
keep their prey in balance with nature by ensuring the prey species
does not become over-populated.
Before people understood how important predators are to keep
a healthy balance in nature, many wolves were killed.
Today the gray wolf is found only in a few places in the lower 48
states such as Minnesota and Montana. Biologists are trying to
restore populations in Wyoming and Idaho by bringing in wild wolves from Canada.
(Photo and text are courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)
Left is a black-footed ferret, another animal endangered because of habitat loss. It is a cousin of weasels, skunks, and badgers. Ferrets depend on these prairie dogs (right) for food. When the west and Great Plains were settled by people, prairie dogs were considered pests by the settlers because they competed with the ranchers' livestock for food. Thousands of prairie dog towns were killed off. Without the prairie dogs, the ferrets had no food. By 1972, the black-footed ferret was believed to be extinct. Then, in 1981, a few ferrets were found in Wyoming and collected for captive breeding. Using "reintroduction," wildlife biologists have moved captive-born ferrets to wild areas where they can find food. A ferret family needs at least 10,000 acres to survive. (Photo and text are courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)
There are many different reasons why plants and animals become endangered or threatened. The biggest reason is loss of their homes or habitats. Habitat loss happens as more and more people move into new areas and push wildlife out. Illegal or unregulated killing of animals and overcollection of plants may also cause a species to become endangered. Other reasons why endangered species are in trouble are because of pesticides and pollution, competition with other non-native species in their habitat, diseases, and predation.
Certain human activities are also the main problem facing the endangered manatee, or sea cow. Adult manatees are about 10 feet long and weigh 800 to 1200 pounds. These plant-eating "gentle giants" live in rivers, canals, and along the coast of Florida, where people often use boats for recreation. Sometimes speed boats run over the manatees, killing them either by running into them with the boat or slicing into their backs with the boats' propellers. As long ago as 1893, Florida passed a law to protect manatees. Florida passed a law to make the state a refuge and sanctuary for manatees. Speed limits for boats are helping to protect manatees. (Photo and text are courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)
Great Horned Owl
Credit: Robert Savannah,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)
|It is because of habitat loss that spotted owls are threatened. Northern spotted owls live in old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. "Old growth" means trees that are more than 200 years old. Without careful planning, cutting of timber for forest products mean less habitat for these animals.|
There are two reasons why tigers are endangered, habitat loss
and illegal killing. (The largest cat remaining and most beautiful,
and we're about to lose them.)
Endangered species show us that our world may not be as healthy
as we think and we need to take better care of it. There's no place else to go.
Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle in flight
Osprey at rest
American Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle waiting