June 22 – Gone Forever

Today’s factismal: Ten species have been removed from the Endangered Species List because they are extinct.

There was some sad news out of the US Fish and Wildlife Service last week: the Eastern Cougar is officially considered extinct taken off of the Endangered Species list. This news wasn’t unexpected. Back in 2011 the Service had said that the species was probably extinct and had been since the last known sighting in 1938. But some still held out hope for small pockets of Eastern Cougars in the more remote parts of the Appalachians. Unfortunately, the only cougars that they found were visitors, some from as far away as the Black Hills of South Dakota. Sadly, as has happened in other cases, the Eastern Cougar was probably extinct even before it went on the list.

A stuffed Eastern Cougar; sadly, this is the only way we will ever see them now (Image courtesy USFWS)

A stuffed Eastern Cougar; sadly, this is the only way we will ever see them now
(Image courtesy USFWS)

However, many other species have benefitted from the Endangered Species list. Perhaps the most notable of these is the Bald Eagle which has grown from a low of 834 birds to more than 22,000 and now no longer on the list. And then there is the grey whale population which more than doubled from 13,095 animals to 26,635 during its time on the list. Plants have benefited from the list, too; for example, the San Clemente Indian Paintbrush went from just 500 plants to some 3,500 before being removed from the list in 1997. And the pace of successes has quickened of late; in the past twelve years, more species have become strong enough to be delisted than in the previous thirty-four!

If you’d like to help an endangered species get off the list by recovering instead of by going the way of the Eastern Cougar, then why not join Condor Watch? This species is critically endangered and needs citizen scientists like you to help it. By tracking their location and social behavior, we can help the species recover. All you have to do is look at photos and identify the tag number on the condor; if you can tell the researchers what the condors are doing, that would be great, too. To get started, wing on over to:


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