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December 18, 2013

An Act for Animals

Endangered Species Act saves animals from extinction

Kind News Magazine, Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014

All the plants and animals on Earth are connected. When one species (kind of creature) is struggling to survive or becomes extinct (disappears forever), others suffer too. Forty years ago, Congress recognized the importance of protecting the animals and plants who share our planet. And on Dec. 28, 1973, President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law.

Why Endangered?

An animal or plant is considered endangered when there are very few of that kind left on Earth. Animals become endangered through loss of habitat, pollution, overhunting, and disease. When an animal is endangered or threatened with extinction, it is placed on the endangered species list. It then becomes illegal to harm the species and its habitat.

One of the first species listed on the endangered species list, black-footed ferrets were once thought to be extinct. But scientists found a few survivors and took them into captivity to help them multiply. Black-footed ferrets depend on prairie dogs to survive. Programs like The HSUS’s Prairie Dog Coalition are working to save prairie dogs and their habitat. Wendy Shattil/Alamy

Successful Recovery

Since the ESA was passed, a number of animals have made comebacks. Black-footed ferrets, brown pelicans, and American crocodiles are just a few animals saved from disappearing forever.

Development of beaches and creek banks in southern Florida reduced the number of American crocodiles to 200 in 1973. They now number 2,000. The Endangered Species Act keeps people from killing the animals, while Everglades National Park, Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and human-dug canals provide safe places for them to live. Tom and Pat Leeson

We can all help protect wildlife. Dispose of trash properly. Never take wild animals from their homes. Keep part of your yard “wild” for wildlife to use as food and shelter.

Bluebirds were once a familiar sight in backyards. But with the loss of dead trees and wooden fence posts in which they nested, they began to disappear. Then people began putting up special nest boxes and planting berry bushes on their property. By providing a home and food for the birds, they are welcoming back the bluebird. Steve Gettle/Minden Pictures

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