As human civilization expands, more and more animal habitat is being destroyed and displaced. With the loss of valuable ecosystems, the plight of endangered animals begins to come into focus. Natural predators are forced to compete with humans for food which commonly ends with the loss of livestock or the destruction of the predator. Every species lost has a consequence for the surviving environment. Keystone species, in which many plants and animals depend, have drastic consequences for large quantities of life forms and tilt the balance towards unwanted environmental effects.
Outlined below are a few endangered and threatened species of North America that are in jeopardy of being lost forever.
Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) – Besides being the smallest subspecies of North American gray wolf, the Mexican Wolf is also the most endangered. Found within Mexico and the Southwest United States, the Mexican Wolf numbers have dwindled to a population of around 300. Due to pressure from a declining food source and eradication efforts, this wolf has been close to extinction since 1950.
Efforts have been made recently to introduce Mexican Wolves back into the wild and increase their numbers. These efforts have been successful, but the majority of animals still live in captivity.To help recovery efforts of the Mexican Wolf, readers are encouraged to check out the Wildlife Adoption & Gift Center to learn how one can Adopt a Wolf.
American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) – Listed as endangered by both federal and state laws, the male American Crocodile averages averages 13 feet and nearly 400 pounds. It is estimated that roughly 2000 American crocodiles inhabit the coastal wetlands that cover the southeastern United States, Mexico and northeastern South America.
Over-hunting, habitat loss and even automobile collisions have contributed to their decline. Recent conservation efforts such as those at Turkey Point nuclear power plant have helped ensure the continuation of the American Crocodile as a species.
More information on American Crocodiles can be found at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.[ad#half-post]
Forida Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostrus) – The Florida Manatee is currently protected under federal and state endangered species laws. Boat strikes and man made structures in waterways are the leading threats to manatees. Poor water quality poses problems to manatees and all marine animals that inhabit the southeastern United States.
Low reproductive rates due to long gestation periods and a single offspring give the Florida Manatee a disadvantage in reversing the dwindling population caused by humans. Each manatee can live up to 60 years and grow to become 12 feet in length. With a weight of 1800 pounds, the Florida Manatee consumes and controls marine and freshwater plants throughout their habitats.
The Save the Manatee Club has many resources and links to assist you with gathering more information.