Bald eagle perched on rubbish

Last night I lay awake from 4 am til almost 5, worrying about the black-footed ferrets I met in Montana and the humans who had devoted their lives to helping them.

While birders come from a whole range of different political positions and philosophical backgrounds, it is impossible to deny that a healthy environment is a huge benefit to each of us and the life we love. And no sensible person can deny the role of the federal government in preserving the environment in the United States – a role that has been slowly built into a bulwark against the catastrophic extinctions that plagued American avifauna in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

As my fellow blogger Meredith Mann pointed out last summer, the Endangered Species Act in particular has been a massive success for birds. A key passage in the summary of the report states that “”Threatened” and “endangered” birds fared much better than unprotected birds, which on average declined 24 percent since 1974, indicating that it was the Endangered Species Act that improved species, not general environmental patterns.”

Not only does this mean that the Endangered Species Act is vital for birds that are presently threatened, it means that without the Act no bird, no matter how seemingly common, can be considered truly safe. The environment is currently facing some of the most massive challenges in recent human history, and for the first time we have the knowledge to do something about that.

The question is, regardless of party, do We the People have the will?

Image by Robert H. Day, courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Written by Carrie
Carrie Laben, after years of writing and birding in New York, moved to Montana to pursue her two great passions more effectively. She recently graduated with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Montana in Missoula. When she is not cranking out essays and speculative fiction stories, or wandering around on mountains failing to see the birds she is looking for, she is likely to be drinking one of the many fine local microbrews or attending a potluck with something from the local farmer’s market in hand. On Mondays from 3 to 3:30 Mountain Time you can find her answering questions about birds on live chat at