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[ Saving Species: EarthShare Member Organizations’ Success Stories ]

Saving Species: EarthShare Success Stories

It’s a sobering statistic: at least
10,000 unique species
become extinct each year. Habitat development,
poaching, disease and climate change are some of the major causes of what many
in the scientific community believe to be the sixth mass extinction in the
earth’s history. And, unfortunately, we humans are mostly to blame. So why does species extinction matter?  

Besides the inherent value of all living things, humans benefit
from biodiversity. There’s much that we still don’t know about how ecosystems and biological communities function, but we do know that no creature exists in isolation. Check out “Why Species Endangerment Matters
from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which outlines some top
reasons why we should care about the impact we have on other living creatures.  

The picture isn’t all bad. Many species that were once
threatened or on the brink of extinction have flourished thanks in large part
to the work of EarthShare
member organizations
. Here are seven that came back with their help:


Florida Black Bear


National Park Service

Thanks to efforts by EarthShare member groups like Defenders
of Wildlife
(they established a Florida black bear conservation initiative
in 1994), the Florida black bear was removed from the state’s endangered species
list in August 2012. In the 1940s and 50s, habitat loss, development and
excessive hunting had left the population at only 300-500 individuals. 
After improved land management and a serious recovery effort, the population
has recovered to between 2,500 and 3,000 bears in the state of Florida.


Chesapeake Bay Blue


National Aquarium

Although not an endangered species, the iconic
and popular Chesapeake Bay blue crab reached its lowest numbers ever in the
last decade. But after conservation measures were taken starting in 2008, it
had the highest population recorded in 20 years in summer 2012 and was
subsequently removed from the “overfished” list. The
National Aquarium suspects
that the upswing was the result of stricter
harvesting regulations. Environmental
Defense Fund
and the Alliance
for the Chesapeake Bay
are two groups taking action to protect this and
other Chesapeake Bay species.


Peregrine Falcon


National Park Service

The pesticide DDT nearly wiped out this majestic bird by the
1970s, but a ban on the chemical along with the dedicated work of EarthShare
member The Peregrine Fund
brought the species back to health. The group released over 4000 captive-reared
birds into the wild over 25 years and the peregrine falcon was removed from the
endangered species list in 1999. Now the organization protects many birds of prey
around the world.


Gray Whale


World Wildlife Fund

Because of extensive hunting up until the 20th
century, gray whales nearly went extinct globally, but today they
number over 20,000 individuals
. Groups like Oceana and World Wildlife Fund
closely monitor and protect gray whales from threats like oil and gas
development and commercial fishing “bycatch,” marine creatures that are caught
in nets while fishing for another
species. Such protections helped 2012
see a
record high
number of calves born. Still, this eastern gray whale population
which migrates between Alaska/Siberia and Mexico is doing much better than its
western cousins. The latter, which migrate between Russia and China, remain
critically endangered at just over 100 individuals.


Gray Wolf

Gray wolf

Defenders of Wildlife

At the end of 2011, there were more than 1700 wolves in the
Northern Rockies. This was a great improvement from the mere 200 individuals
counted in 1997 and a testament to the efforts of conservation groups,
particularly Earthjustice
and Defenders
of Wildlife
. Sadly, this success has come at a price: the gray wolf’s
removal from the endangered species list by Congress in 2011 has resulted in a
flurry of wolf killings across Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Our members continue
to be outspoken advocates for this iconic species, publishing weekly reports on the
status of the gray wolf and working within the legal system to ensure its




National Wildlife Federation

Bison, an iconic part of the American frontier identity, were
once a common sight across the Great Plains, but they were hunted to near
extinction by the end of the 1800s. Fast forward to 2011 when the National
Wildlife Federation
and Earthjustice worked with Indian tribes in the
region to return wild bison herds to the prairie after an incredible
century-long absence.  With such efforts,
the thought of seeing bison herds roam freely and widely across the west once
more is a dream within reach.


Indiana Bat

Indiana bats

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Indiana bats were put on the endangered species list in 1967
and their population has been falling ever since, but conservation work by Bat
Conservation International
has grown the population in one important
habitat from just dozens in 1998 to nearly 7000 in 2007. Bat Conservation
International is also at the forefront of methods to protect these pollinators
from white-nose syndrome and wind
energy projects
. With their efforts and those of groups like Audubon, clean
energy projects and wildlife protection can go hand-in-hand.


Want to learn about
other animals that survived the threat of extinction
? Read WWF’s article Back
from the Brink
. Then check out our EarthShare Wildlife Protection
for more information about how you can help save
threatened wildlife.

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