A Movement for Wildlife Conservation
The Florida panther, Cape Sable seaside sparrow, and Kemp's ridley sea turtle are classified in different vertebrate categories, but they all have something in common; they are on the endangered list. These animals' lives, as well as hundreds of other species' lives, are in danger as their survivial and reproduction rates decline. Animals are becoming endangered primarily because of the effects human activities have on environmental change. Environmental concerns are causing changes through increasing amounts of water pollution and development and destruction of natural habitats. All wildlife plays an important role in maintaining a natural balance on earth; therefore, it is vital for the nation to embrace a movement for wildlife conservation in order for the list of endangered species to decline.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 protects the vital habitat of all endangered species. The problem with this is getting endangered animals on the ESA list before it is too late; many animals only receive protection after being threatened with extinction. To be put on the ESA list, the number of a certain species must be accounted for through research (Wilkinson 26). This research is very costly and not funded by the government; therefore, many species are known to be endangered, but cannot be added to the list for lack of research (26). With this process, a long period of time passes before research begins, making it hard to know when some species are out of danger or nearing extinction.
Increasingly, water pollution and habitat loss are problems endangering animals; the Florida panther has become endangered due to both. Water supplies consumed by panthers have become contaminated by industrial poisons in the forms of pesticides and waste products (La Pierre 44). Through testing of dead panthers, high levels of the element mercury have been found in some (44). The damage done to the Florida panther population by water pollution is devastating. Less than fifty adults are left, but an attempt to restore them is underway through a breeding program performed in captivity. Numbers of panthers should start rising with the continuation of this program as nine kittens are already successfully living (44).
Water not only creates a problem for animals when it is polluted, but also when natural water flows are interrrupted. The cape Sable seaside sparrow is an endangered species because of water flow changes caused by development (Mackay 38). The building of drainage systems (dams, levees, and canals) for new developments causes altered water flows. Water is constantly re-routed to different areas; flooding, which soaks sparrow's nests, occurs and droughts leave land as fire hazards (38). The restoration of these sparrows depends on redirecting water flow to specific areas, capturing sparrows and transporting them into the new areas of natural water flow.