It’s Endangered Species Day! In 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed to save iconic species such as the bald eagle and the Florida panther. Thanks to this law, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service have been protecting and working to recover threatened and endangered wildlife species and their habitats ever since.
The ESA has been 99 percent effective in ensuring threatened and endangered species aren’t forever erased from the landscape. It is our best tool to stop extinction.
Here are 10 of the incredible animals protected by the Endangered Species Act:
The grizzly bear is threatened in the lower 48. These playful cubs at Katmai National Park in Alaska aren’t too imposing now, but the adults here regularly grow to more than 1,000 pounds in the fall.
- The endangered Devils Hole pupfish. These tiny blue fish are only found in Devils Hole, a water-filled cavern at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada.
- The endangered Florida panther. The only cougars east of the Mississippi, they were an early success story of the Endangered Species Act. Nevertheless, they number only approximately 125 today, and they live in only 5 percent of their historic range. This means they have a long way to go.
- The threatened desert tortoise. This juvenile is a desert specialist who hibernates much of the year and spends up to 95 percent of its life underground in a burrow.
- The endangered rusty patched bumblebee. Once common in U.S. grasslands and prairies, a combination of monocrop agriculture and pesticide use has limited them to just 0.1 percent of their historical range.
- The endangered golden-cheeked warbler. During this time of year in May, they are busy finding love at their breeding grounds in central Texas where they nest in old juniper trees.
- The threatened Steller’s eider. Entire flocks of these arctic sea ducks can be seen diving in unison when they forage.
- The O’ahu tree snail. All 41 species of these little mollusks, which graze on fungi that grow on native trees, are endangered due to invasive species and habitat loss.
- 2-for-1 special! An endangered Hawaiian monk seal takes a nap with an endangered green sea turtle at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. This protected island chain and surrounding ocean area acts as a refuge for 23 different threatened and endangered species.
- The endangered pronghorn. While cheetahs are the world’s fastest sprinters, pronghorns probably run the fastest 5k of any animal. They can sustain a pace of 45 mph for several miles at a time.