Animal lovers and conservationists unite: May 17 is National Endangered Species Day. This is a day to consider the dwindling populations of certain animals and work together to help. Environmental conservation didn’t gain traction until the mid-1800s. America’s Endangered Species Act of 1973 sparked both domestic and international conservation by providing a framework for protection.
Even today some remain critical of human efforts to make the world more habitable for endangered animals. They argue that natural selection should decide which species live or die. But let’s remember that humans have an unprecedented effect on the planet, which can have negative consequences on the lives of other animals.
Endangered Species Day timeline
The Dodo bird becomes extinct.
President Theodore Roosevelt sets up the first National Wildlife Refuge at Pelican Island, Florida, to protect different species of birds.
Once the most commonly found bird in North America, the passenger pigeon becomes extinct.
Polar bears are threatened due to the depletion of their habitat in the Arctic.
How to Observe Endangered Species Day
Make a donation
There are thousands of charitable organizations dedicated to conserving endangered species, and they all could use your help. These organizations exist at national and local levels as well, so you can choose how far and wide your money goes.
Volunteer at a local nature center
If you can spare the time, find a nature center near you and volunteer. Take the opportunity to learn something new about this wonderful planet we live on, and learn how you can make sure it’s in good shape for the future. Most nature centers offer helpful literature, and those who work there are always ready for a chance to talk about their work. If you’re interested volunteering could turn into a regular hobby!
Go on a nature walk
Take time on National Endangered Species Day to see for yourself what the natural world looks like, right in your backyard. See if you can spot all the creatures that make their homes with you, and try to figure out the best way to help your local ecosystem work.
Why Endangered Species Day is Important
Every animal is a vital link in its own respective food chain. Removing any link has disastrous effects on other animals, humans, and the planet in general. The key to making sure that human history continues is to make sure we live on a healthy planet, and in order to do that, we must allow other animals to live and thrive along with us.
Bald eagles: A success story
The pesticide DDT once posed a threat to America's bald eagle population. The U.S. banned DDT in 1972. The Endangered Species Act took effect a year later. Bald eagles recovered by 2007 and no longer occupy a spot on the endangered list.
When it comes to studying disease or biology or natural history, it’s not enough to study fossils and other humans. Studying the animals who share our planet allows us to form a deeper understanding of the way life works. If a species goes extinct, there is no real way for us to truly understand how they impacted the planet. After all, dodo saliva could have been utilized as a natural antidepressant, but since they all died out several centuries ago, we’ll never know for certain.
Endangered Species Day dates