Endangered species come in all packages
Everyone knows the list of endangered animals. Polar bears, snow leopards, sea turtles and emperor penguins. What about animals that don’t make it on that list? The hellbender salamander for instance.
“Our program entitled ‘Species Adoptions’ allows donations to a particular animal. Donors receive plush animals of the particular one that they adopt and a framed certificate as well as other gifts,” said Sybelle Klenzendorf, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Managing Director of Species Conservation Program.
“Please keep in mind that our adoption program is symbolic. World Wildlife Fund helps endangered animals by saving the environment in which they live. WWF does not single out particular animals, or families of animals, for adoption. Adoption donations are directed to field programs to support science, research and animal study. They are not directed to a specific species,” said Klenzendorf.
In 2009, the WWF received gifts totaling in over $200,000, according to the WWF’s 2009 tax report. According to the 2009 Statement of Activities, $23,000 of that money was from the Species Adoption program.
“In Arizona, there are 39 threatened and endangered animal species; none of which are on the WWF list of adoptable animals,” said to Lauren Kurpis, Press secretary for Arizona’s Gaming and Fish Department. “We have many programs. One of them being the Heritage Data Management System (HDMS).” According to Kurpis, HDMS is part of a global network of more than 80 Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers. HDMS information is available so Arizonans can make prudent decisions weighing future development, economic growth and environmental integrity.
“We rank these animals by status such as how imminent the jeopardy of extinction is. We also list them by rank meaning how rare or uncommon they are. We do not rank them according to prettiness or put pretty pictures hoping people will donate. It is what it is,” said Kurpis.
The Game and Fish Department of Arizona has also started an action plan called the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). The three main focuses of this plan are the species of greatest conservation need, including the criteria used to determine their status and their spatial distributions, the spatial distribution of stressors to wildlife, including a vulnerability assessment for climate change and elimination of landscapes of conservation concern, according to www.azgfd.com.
The Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) is an all-volunteer, statewide non-profit association of people interested in the present and future well-being of Arizona’s wildlife, wildlife habitat and natural systems.
AWF Board Member Tom Mackin said “AWF conservationists believe our wildlife heritage should not be jeopardized by any activity that fails to ensure its long-term health and sustainability.”
According to AWF’s website, AWF volunteers have donated thousands of man hours to projects at Saguaro Lake and Bartlett Lake aimed at improving aquatic habitat for largemouth bass, catfish, crappies and other fish species. “Not tigers or panda bears but fish,” said Mackin. “It just goes to show that people care enough about the preservation of wildlife to volunteer to help any animal, not just the mainstream species.”
According to AWF’s website, in the Prescott National Forest AWF volunteers gave several weekends of their time to the construction of a silt retention dam on Walnut Creek northwest of Prescott. “These are not glamorous jobs but somebody needs to do them,” said Mackin.
“Plants are included in a list of endangered species,” said Prescott hiker Michael Klein. “No one has ‘Save the Welsh’s Milkweed’ as a bumper sticker. I see plenty of ‘Save the whales’ bumper stickers however.”
Klein became interested in preserving Arizona wildlife when he was hiking in the Sonoran desert and came upon students collecting plants and insects. “They were middle school students getting samples for class. They were going to bring them back to class and dissect them. The teacher didn’t realize that though they aren’t big and significant, plants, fish and insect species are also dangerously close to extinction.”
According to Arizona Ecological Services, plants and animals become threatened or endangered due to loss of habitat, illegal or unregulated hunting collection, competition from non-native species and pollution. “That’s true for every threatened animal. There just isn’t as much press about them like there is for polar bears,” Klein said.