Thanks to the global conservation efforts, commencing with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) 1973 in the US amongst other global measures, many formerly endangered species have been saved from being completely extinguished. The 1990s were the period in which the impact of these measures aimed at saving these would-be extinct species was truly felt. Here we look at the top 10 species success stories.
Image Credit: Birdlife
Image Credit: Wikipedia
The Black-footed ferret lost its footing in the prairie due to the extermination of the prairie dogs whom people consider a nuisance and who were the Black-footed ferret’s best meal. The absence of their favored prey and disease made the Black-footed ferret an almost extinct species. However, thanks to the discovery of a small pocket of the species, today the Black-footed ferret is one of the best species success stories. All thanks to an aggressive campaign that eventually helped revive their population with over 500 animals reintroduced into the wild.
9. California Condor
Image Credit: All About Birds
In the early 1980s, only 23 of these birds grazed the skies. Thanks to the San Diego Zoo and its partners, wild condors were helped to carefully raise birds whilst ensuring that no young imprinted on humans. Today, over 200 condors exist in the wild and they are well on their way to attaining a self-sustaining population.
8. Red Wolf
Image Credit: National Wildlife Federation
By 1969, the Red Wolf was a nearly extinct species. The Endangered Species Act listed this once prolific animal as an endangered species. The absence of partners had forced the Red Wolves to hybridize with the Coyotes further diluting the population. It would have taken the demise of only 14 remaining members of the species to declare the Red Wolf biologically extinct. Thanks to intervention, there are over 100 Red Wolves in the wild today.
7. Gray Wolf
Image Credit: PBS
During a 1960 count of the Gray Wolves, it was clear that they were fast becoming an extinct species. Only 300 wolves were counted in a continent that once harbored over 2 million of those species. Gray Wolves were destroyed by humans who found them threatening and waged a war on them that forced them to the Great Lake region’s dense forests. In 1974, they were listed as a threatened to be extinct species. During a 2013 count, 5443 wolves were counted across 48 states, a significant increase for a once threatened to be extinct species.
6. Lake Erie Water Snake
Image Credit: Airfreshner
Exclusive to the amazing island communities of the popular Great Lake, the Lake Erie Water Snake became a regular victim of human interference and unregulated killing. Hence, the species came under Endangered Species Act protection in 1999, pushing the Lake Erie Water Snakes to become the focus of rescue attempts by locals. The population then grew by 6% annually leading to its delisting from the list of endangered species in 2011 when over 12,000 snakes were recorded. This makes it one of the most interesting species success stories due to the communal effort that encapsulated its revival.
5. Island Night Lizard
Image Credit: Wikipedia
Although there was no exact information on just how many island night lizards were prior to them coming under Endangered Species Act protection in 1977, it was clear that they were fast becoming an extinct species. Today the lizards’ population has been restored thanks to the removal of grazing invaders (goats, pigs, sheep and domestic cats) and relocation of the feral cats that enjoyed feasting on the lizards. Today the island night lizard is one of the greatest species success stories as there are over 27 million island night lizards in their native southern California channel islands.
4. Aleutian Canadian Goose
Image Credit: Tony Northrup Photography
Once abundant across Alaska’s countless islands, the Aleutian Canadian Goose was almost wiped out by non-native foxes – introduced into the region by fur industries that consumed the bird’s eggs and their defenseless goslings. By 1975, there were only 790 Aleutian Canadian goose leading it to receiving protection under ESA. The removal of the invasive foxes, restricted hunting, and other habitat protection measures made the fourth greatest species success stories today.
3. Steller Sea Lions
Image Credit: National Marine Mammal Laboratory
They found their habitat along the western coast of the United States. Steller sea lions have for a long time been victims of man-made hazards and activities such as illegal hunting, fatal entanglements with drift nets, boating strikes and offshore drilling. This led to a decrease in the western populations in the 1990s. After being granted protection under the ESA in 1990, the eastern population grew by 300% while the western population still continues to struggle.
2. Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel
Image Credit: Care2
In 1985, only 10 individuals of this species were found across four areas that constitute their habitat range. The result of to industrial logging from 1880s to 1940s was that the Virginia northern flying squirrel had become an endangered species nearing eradication. After coming under ESA protection in 1985, a partnership between the US Fish and Wildlife Division of Natural Resources with numerous state parks, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and countless conservation groups followed. In 2013, individuals were counted in over 100 different areas within their habitat range – one of the greatest species success stories so far.
1. Brown Pelican
Image Credit: Audubon
At the turn of the 1970s, the Brown Pelicans had nearly become an extinct species in the United States. Many factors were responsible for this. One was the presence of pesticide DDT in their food that thinned their eggshells. Their pelican mothers who are known to keep their eggs warm by standing on top of them crushed these eggshells. The ESA increased and improved pesticide regulation and rehabilitation efforts brought them back from being an endangered species. Today there are over 11,000 brown pelicans in the United States alone.
What is the point of preventing extinct species when billions of dollars go into the process? The entire ecosystem is interconnected. Take, for example, the black-footed ferret that almost faced extinction due to the disappearance of the prairie dogs. If not properly checkmated the continual extinction of species would eventually affect our existence. So these are the top ten endangered species. Your thoughts are most welcome.