Thursday, May 20, 2010

Endangered Species Day, May 21st: a day to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves

Tomorrow, May 21st, has been set aside by the U.S. government as Endangered Species Day. From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) web site, it reads, "On May 21, 2010 the Fish and Wildlife Service will observe Endangered Species Day in order to recognize the national conservation effort to protect our nation’s endangered species and their habitats."

Recognition is certainly important, but action speaks louder than words. And according to some conservation organizations, the government - under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act - has been a little slow out of the starting blocks with several species that have been designated as "endangered."

When a plant or animal is listed as an endangered species, the government is required to take steps to protect it - definitive steps that include setting aside critical habitat areas and addressing the environmental issues that placed the species in such a degree of jeopardy. Organizations such as Earthjustice and The Center for Biological Diversity have often resorted to legal action against any government agency that can be shown to be negligent or disinterested in following the letter of the law as prescribed by the Endangered Species Act.

Sometimes government action has been lacking because of government bureaucracy; sometimes because of a perceived lack of resources to act; and sometimes its intransigence is more politically deliberate. When concern was growing for the polar bear living in an Arctic with less and less sea ice for it to rest or travel on, the prior administration acted against the advice of many leading conservation and research groups and gave the polar bear a threatened species classification, which freed the government from the obligation of having to take action to correct the environmental situation that would imperil an "endangered" polar bear species - in this case, to recognize and correct global warming.

However, there are many organizations that are going beyond just lip service in recognizing Endangered Species Day including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Check these out:
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: lists educational information and USFWS/state-sanctioned events.
  • Stop web site includes event calendar, K-12 school info for teachers, podcasts, and Endangered Species Day Ambassadors.
  • National Wildlife Federation: web site has ways to celebrate the day, endangered animals portraits for Facebook, and tweets that you can post on Twitter.
There's something for everybody, so celebrate Endangered Species Day by helping someone you know learn a little more about what needs to be done to preserve the planet's priceless animals and plants.

1 comment:

dprosenthal said...

And I'd like to speak for those who can but to whom no one is listening...the recent oil leak disaster has endangered plenty of species that could use you help. More to the point, it will be devastating to thousands of real live human beings whose means of earning a living has been destroyed. They could really use that 5 million.