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Endangered Species

Nowhere is man's impact on other species more evident than in south Florida.

Threatened, endangered and extinct are words that have become all too common in our 20th century vocabulary. The natural process of species evolution, taking hundreds and thousands of years, has accelerated rapidly since the turn of the century. Today because of man's desire for land and raw materials, his continued pollution and indiscriminate hunting many plant and wildlife species are on the brink of extinction.

Drainage of wetlands, alteration of overland water flow and hunting have all contributed to species decline. The Everglades, once known for its abundant bird life, has seen its wading bird population decline drastically since the turn of the century. The Florida Panther once common throughout the state, today is on the verge of extinction. Within the four National Park areas of Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve and Fort Jefferson National Monument there are 16 endangered and 6 threatened wildlife species. The mere physical boundaries of a National Park do not guarantee a species survival.

Maintaining harmony between "20th century progress" and wilderness areas requires research, legislation and public awareness. For the last decade the South Florida Research Center, Everglades National Park, has been studying how changes occurring outside the parks influence the fragile areas within their boundaries. Research going on today may lead to a brighter future for many species.

Legislation such as the Endangered Species Act of 1973 has also afforded some measure of protection for wildlife. The Act provided for the classification of wildlife species as "endangered" or"threatened," and mandated legal protection for species so listed. In justification for such protection, the Act also recognized that the various species of fish, wildlife and plants have aesthetic, educational, historical and scientific value.

Public support is also vital for species preservation. "What can I do?" you might ask. You can:

    1. Become informed on the status of plants and wildlife in your state.
    2. Do not purchase products that you suspect come from endangered or threatened plant or wildlife species.
    3. Report those people who are known dealers in endangered or threatened plants and wildlife.
    4. Support conservation legislation.
Today it is not enough to merely appreciate nature, we have to actively work to protect it. What we do today toward that goal is the legacy we leave our children and their children. The extinction of a species is forever ... and the decision is ours.

If you see any of the wildlife on this list or those you believe to be rare please fill out a wildlife observation card at any visitor center or report it to a ranger.

- Written by Shirley Beccue

Endangered Species in Everglades National Park:

  • American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)
  • Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
  • Atlantic Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempi)
  • Atlantic hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
  • Atlantic leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
  • Cape Sable seaside sparrow (Ammodramus maritima mirabilis)
  • Snail (Everglades) kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus)
  • Wood stork (Mycteria americana)
  • West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus)
  • Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi)
  • Key Largo wood rat (Neotoma floridana smalli)
  • Key Largo cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus allapaticola)
  • Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis)
  • Schaus swallowtail butterfly (Papilio aristodemus ponceanus)
  • Garber's Spurge (Chamaesyce garberi)

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