By: Song E.
It’s really difficult to grasp the notion that a whole entire population of a species can be wiped out for good. The cause of most species going endangered often lays in the hands of humans, which is a bitter realization to have. How drastically would the ecosystem change if just one animal didn’t exist anymore? It’s hard to think about, right?
The good news is people have been bringing these issues to the surface and taking action in saving endangered species before it’s too late. These are some of the animals who have had their populations partially restored by conservation efforts.
The American Alligator was frequently hunted for leather, to make pretty shoes and purses. After their numbers dwindled down, they were put under protection by the Preservation Act in 1967 and became illegal to hunt. In 1987, they were taken off the endangered species list. This is by no means a recent comeback, but it’s a start.
You’ll find a reoccurring pattern regarding near-extinct birds on this list and the cause of their endangerment. In 1963, there were only 417 breeding pairs in the United State’s lower 48 states primarily due to DDT, which cause their eggs to be thin and would inevitably get crushed when they tried to incubate them. The Bald Eagle Preservation Act banned all trapping and killing, and eventually banned the use of DDT completely, which lead to their removal from the endangered species list in 2007.
The Swift Fox population was decimated in the 1930s largely due to the wiping out of wolves and coyotes in the United States. This resulted in a 60% decrease in their population. The Swift Fox Conservation Team is pushing to restore their population. And, as of 2014, they were still endangered in Canada.
The California Condor population decreased due to DDT (again), power line collisions, and human contact. This species really saw the brink of extinction, as there were only 22 left at one point. These last 22 birds were captured and put into breeding operations. They were also trained to avoid power lines, which really seemed to help. In 2013, there were 435 total––237 wild and 198 in captivity. The numbers aren’t quite that high, but they are slowly rebounding.
The Florida Panther’s population dropped quite drastically and extremely low. In the 1970’s there were only 20 existing in the wild. Only 20! The main reason for this is human invasion on panther territory. In a state growing fairly quickly, it’s difficult to put aside space for these animals. They are very territorial and need about 200 square miles. As of 2013, there were 160 panthers in the wild. To put this in a more recent perspective, 160 panthers would need around 32,000 square miles of territory. Humans have only left 3,800 square miles for them. Conservation efforts have fought to maintain their habitats while competing with growing southern Florida.
These never-domesticated horses just lost their habitat (I won’t even attempt to pronounce this name). The last one to be seen in the wild was seen in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia in 1969. In the 1970’s, there were only 15; all which were kept in captivity. This species made a huge comeback since then. Now there are over 400 in the wild and around 1,500 in captivity.
Between 1968 and 1980, the Brown Pelican population was 1,276. Their population decrease was also due largely to DDT. They were taken under the Endangered Species Act and with the help of drastic pesticide regulations, their species bounced back to 11,000 in 2014. However, they still face storm threats in southern United States.
Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel
These squirrels looked extinction straight in the eyes, as there was only a count on 10 in their habitat in 1985. This was mainly caused by industrial logging, which only left a few habitable forests for them to live in. Several organizations came together to bring this species back from near-extinction; they, also, were taken under the Endangered Species Act. Conservation efforts brought the species back to a 1,100 count in more than 100 sites in the same range in 2013.
Stellar Sea Lion
These animals weren’t so much as endangered in the east as they were on the west coast of the United States. There was an 18,000 count in 1979. Many causes accounted for their drop in population, which was about a 40% decrease in the 1990’s (the east coast had around a 300% increase). The drop in population was due to the accumulation of entanglement in nets, illegal hunting, oil spills, and boating strikes––man-made hazards. Conservation efforts brought their population back up to 70,000 by 2010.
In the 1960’s, there were only 300 wolves across Wisconsin and Minnesota. Before human saw them as a “dangerous threat,” there were over 2 million in count. These animals were taken under the Endangered Species Act in 1974 and reintroduced to once plentiful habitats. Their revival is controversial as they occupy 15% of their historical range. As of 2013, their population rose to 5,443 in the lower 48 states.