Today is Endangered Species Day, a day dedicated to bringing attention to the fact that all over the world, there are numerous vulnerable or endangered species desperately trying to survive. Animals like giraffes, rhinos, and polar bears are all endangered or vulnerable for so many reasons and there are a few species here in the northwest that face similar threats. Here are some of those species:

The Western Pond Turtle

I’ve written about the western pond turtle before, as this turtle species is one of the few native turtles to the Pacific Northwest. While incredibly cute, these turtles face threats from habitat loss and competition from invasive species (both plants and other non-native turtles).

The Northern Spotted Owl

These owls have called many of the forests along much of the west coast home for quite some time now but habitat loss and competition from other species have greatly impacted their population. These birds prefer old growth forests but because of historical and current logging, these kinds of forests are dwindling and the right characteristics for northern spotted owls don’t appear in the forests until they’re about 150-200 years old.

The Gray Wolf

At the beginning of the 20th century, gray wolves nearly disappeared from the continental United States. Historical hunting and widespread hatred of these wolves in European colonies resulted in the population declining dramatically during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Recovery efforts for these animals in areas like the northern Rocky Mountains began in the 1980s and in the decades since, the gray wolf populations in many areas around North America (including the Pacific Northwest) have exceeded expectations.

Nature preserves like Yellow Island in the San Juans off Washington and conservation work done with animals like the western pond turtles can help different endangered species (and other species!) survive. Plus, legislation like the Endangered Species Act (ESA) can protect many different species and the habitats they call home. But even the ESA has faced possible extinction.

There are so many things you as an individual can do to help endangered species around the world. Limiting or even getting rid of the plastic you use can help decrease the amount of plastic that eventually ends up in the ocean and harming wildlife. Supporting organizations like the Jane Goodall Institute and the Nature Conservancy means that they can keep doing the work to help endangered species and their homes. And helping to limit the amount of invasive animals/plants can also help native species thrive in their habitats. This can be done through helping your local Parks and Rec departments if they host work parties or not releasing unwanted pets into the wild.

Ultimately, many of the currently endangered or vulnerable animals around the world and here in the northwest need our help to survive. Even making little day to day changes can make a difference!

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