By Grace Brinkmann
Endangered Species Day is May 15th and gives us a great opportunity to learn about endangered species and how we can protect them. The United States is home to thousands of different plants and animals with whom we share this earth. Each organism plays a role and has a purpose, but unfortunately, many of these species’ populations are becoming more threatened and endangered each day.
The Ozark hellbender is a strictly aquatic amphibian found in Ozark streams of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. This subspecies of hellbender is listed as endangered because a rapid decline in numbers and range have left only small, isolated populations.
Photo by Jeff Briggler; Missouri Department of Conservation
Humans are just a thread in the web of life but we have caused massive destruction to our environment. Environmental activist Bill McKibben says succinctly, “We didn’t create this world, but we are busy de-creating it”. Although we can be proud of our extraordinary advancements in technology, medicine, and other areas, we cannot deny that we have made damage.
Fortunately, it is possible, and it is up to us to reverse it. By becoming aware of endangered species, we can learn how to save and protect them.
The Endangered Species Act passed in 1973 provides the backbone for the legal defense of our nation’s incredible biodiversity, by requiring that any actions authorized, funded, or carried out by federal agencies cannot jeopardize the continued existent of any listed species or the habitats of listed species.
The Endangered Species Act has already helped recovered many species, and Great Rivers has used it in our work protect several of Missouri’s species including the Pallid Sturgeon, the Ozark Hellbender, and the Gray Bat.
Life on earth is all interconnected and all organisms in an ecosystem depend upon each other. We are part of these ecosystems and we depend on plants and animals for food, water, clothing, shelter, fuel, and clean air.
Some ways, big or small, to save our endangered species include…
- Educate ourselves, our friends, and our family.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Volunteer for wildlife organizations.
- Limit your use of plastic products, which harm wildlife when disposed of.
- Do your part to limit pollution… Ride your bike, carpool, use public transportation, and do not litter.
- Speak up and take action. Learn how your community helps wildlife and write to your local politicians.
- Do not support companies that pollute natural water resources.
- Fundraise to support conservation organizations.
- Post on social media about endangered species and ways to help.
- Reduce your water consumption.
You can also directly support the legal protection of Missouri’s endangered species through making a gift to Great Rivers Environmental Law Center.