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