The Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi) was one of the first species named to the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The panther, also known as the cougar, puma, or mountain lion, once roamed throughout most of North and South America and was divided into numerous subspecies. Panthers were feared and hunted to the point where the Florida Panther is the only remaining subspecies in the eastern United States. There are somewhere between 100 and 180 Florida Panthers remaining
The Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi) is one of two remaining Monk Seals. While most seals live in frigid water, Monk Seals live in the warm tropical waters of Hawaii and the Mediterranean. Hawaiian Monk Seals are solitary animals. During the day, they haul up onshore to find a shady refuge from the heat and then hunt at night. The Hawaiian Monk Seal is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red list. There were originally 3 Monk Seal species: the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the Hawaiian. The Caribbean monk seal has been extinct since the 1950’s and there are somewhere between 3-6 hundred Mediterranean Monk Seals left.
The Musk Ox (Ovibos moschatus) is one of only a few large mammals to have survived the Pleistocene extinctions. With it’s double layered coat of fur, and the ability to slow its metabolic rate by reducing both oxygen intake and CO2 production, the musk ox is uniquely suited to survive the harshest of winters. Musk Ox are herd animals with a highly developed social structure. When attacked, they are known to surround their young, elderly, or infirm members, facing horns outward in a protective circle. Hopefully these amazing animals will be able to survive in a warming world.
The Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is capable of amazing migratorial feats of up to 3,000 of miles. There are two distinct Monarch populations in north America. The western population of Monarchs migrate from Mexico to parts of California, while the eastern population migrate as far north as southern Canada. Monarch populations are now threatened by climate change, pesticides, and the loss of the milk weed their larva need to feed on.
The African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the largest living land animal. They are highly intelligent with brains similar in structure and complexity to humans. Their population has long been at risk due to poaching for the ivory in their tusks. They are now also in danger due to the effects of climate change on their habitat.
The Blue Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) is a good example of a species labeled as endangered within its respective area. According to the IUCN Red list they are labeled ‘least concerned’, but are labeled endangered by many states within their habitat. Amphibians in general are in danger. After being on earth for 300 million years, more than 120 species may have become extinct within the last several decades. At present, 1 out of every 3 species of amphibians is at risk of extinction
Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) are marine mammals and members of the weasel family. They are the only marine mammal to rely on their fur instead of fat for warmth. Their fur is the thickest of any mammal and the primary reason for their decline in numbers. Starting in the the mid 1700’s to the early part of the 20th century, Sea Otters were hunted for their fur leading them to the brink of extinction.
Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) are one of the largest bears, weighing as much as 1,500 lbs. The Polar Bear is currently listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act. Because they are at the top of the arctic food chain and depend heavily on sea ice for their survival, they have become a key indicator species in the fight against climate change.
Black Footed Ferrets (Mustela nigripes) are the only ferret native to North America. Their primary source of food and shelter is the prairie dog, which accounts for 90% of their diet.
As settlers killed off prairie dogs and destroyed their tunnels, the Black Footed Ferret population also declined. By the mid 1900 they were thought to be extinct. But a small population was found alive in Wyoming in the 1980’s; those18 individuals were placed in a captive breeding program. Today, there are approximately 750 living in the wild.
The West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus) is the largest surviving member of the order Sirenia. They are thought to have been mistaken for mermaids by sailors who had been at sea for too long. Threats to the West Indian Manatee include habitat loss, and injury and death due to commercial and recreational boating.