This is a book of beautiful photographs with an important message. Almost 2,000 species are endangered with some of the verge of going extinct. Many species have already disappeared forever. Joel Sartore photographed and wrote about several such species. He demonstrates how some endangered species such as the American alligator are thriving, with help. Other species, are gone forever, like the Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit, which became extinct in 2008.
The Endangered Species Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Nixon in 1973. Habitats have been saved to assist challenged species. This has forced us to often question: which is the more important, the needs of humans or the needs of nature?
Other laws have been passed to help both humans and nature, such as the Clean Water Act and creating the Fish and Wildlife Services as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service. Many helpful actions have been local ones, such as petitions that saved habitats from being destroyed.
Not all endangered species are large animals. Even bugs and all kinds of living things play important roles in ecosystems. There are about 1,011 species within the U.S. and its waters that are endangered with 301 listed as threatened. Habitats have been saved for 538 species. Recovery plans have been developed for 1,134 species. 49 species have recovered enough that they have been removed from these lists, yet nine were done so because they went extinct. 14 species were removed because their population numbers increased enough for re-designation. 16 were removed due to administrative reasons, such as discovered more in new counts.
Among species in trouble are Higgins Eye, which is a key food for otters and muskrats among others, loggerhead sea turtles which are often caught in fishing traps, the yellow blotched map turtle, which has been harmed by flood control efforts and by boaters, the bog turtle which has seen much of its' wetlands habitat destroyed, the red cockaded wood pecker, which has seen 98% of its southern pine forests destroyed, the yellow fin madtom, whose river habitat has been harmed by silt, the fringed campion, which has been hurt by clear cutting, the Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly, whose habitat was destroyed for development, the polar bear, whose habitat has been destroyed by climate change melting the ice, the Puerto Rican Crested Toad, where development has reduced its' habitat, the grizzly bear, whose U.S. population once reached under 300, the ocelor, who had been harmed by development and illegal hunting, the Mississippi Sandhill Crance, which has existed for ten million years and now there are only about 155 left, the eastern hellbender, which has been harmed by dams and silt, the Florida Perforate Cladonia, which has been harmed by development, etc.
Efforts have helped some species. Banning DDT allowed the peregrine falcon and the bald eagle to regain population. The gray wolf has also rebounded with human assistance.