"As we work to protect our environment, we can't forget the importance of wildlife in sustaining earth's ecosystems," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat who co-sponsored the resolution. "Endangered Species Day will provide a great opportunity to increase awareness and invite more people to join the fight to protect God's creatures."
Whale watchers spot one off the Rhode Island coast. (Photo by Walt Callahan)
Rhode Island endangered species include humpback, finback and North Atlantic right whales; hawksbill, Kemp's ridley, leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles; shortnose sturgeon and piping plovers.
Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican and resolution co-sponsor, said, "The federal government plays a critical role in protecting threatened and endangered species. On May 21, we will celebrate Endangered Species Day to encourage greater awareness about the threats to endangered species and to promote species conservation worldwide. I encourage all Mainers to take advantage of the opportunities that day to learn more about what each of us can do to protect threatened and endangered species."
Maine endangered species include Canada lynx; humpback, finback and North Atlantic right whales; leatherback sea turtles; shortnose sturgeon and piping plovers.
Started by the United States Senate, Endangered Species Day is the third Friday in May. This year will be the 5th annual Endangered Species Day. Every year, parks, wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, museums, libraries, schools, scout troops and community organizations hold Endangered Species Day events.
This year, events will be held at the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Botanical Garden, the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Maine Wildlife Park, the Bozeman Fish Hatchery, and many other locations.
"We thank Senators Whitehouse, Collins and all of the sponsors for supporting Endangered Species Day and our nation's commitment to protecting endangered species," said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. "Endangered Species Day is a great opportunity for young and old alike to learn about endangered species and their habitat where they live."
In view of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Endangered Species Coalition is mounting a campaign to stop the expansion of offshore drilling. Endangered species such as sperm whales, sea turtles, manatees, pelicans, least terns and gulf sturgeon are all in harm's way as the 4,000 square mile oil spill continues to expand, the coalition warns.
The nationwide Endangered Species Day Art contest offers students an opportunity to learn about endangered species and express their knowledge and support through artwork.
Organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Endangered Species Coalition, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art at the University of New Orleans, the art contest is judged by a national panel of artists, educators, and scientists. The winner is awarded a trophy and a trip to Washington, DC.
Some states are holding their own art contests. For instance, the Arkansas Ecological Services Field Office has organized the first Annual Endangered Species Day Art Contest with cash prizes for the winners. The state agency is correlating state standards to the art contest to encourage teachers to incorporate the curriculum and contest into their classroom. Arkansas endangered species include the Florida panther, three bat species, the whooping crane and the rarely seen ivory-billed woodpecker.
At the U.S. Botanical Garden in Washington, DC, experts will focus on endangered native plants and their relationship to pollinators and the environment. Tours of the U.S. Botanical Gardens will feature endangered plants.
In San Francisco, three days of activities are planned at Golden Gate National Park where there are more federally protected species than at any other unit of the National Park System in the continental United States.
Over half of North American bird species and nearly one third of California's plant species are found in the park. Twenty-five federally threatened and endangered species exist within Golden Gate lands that the Park Service manages, and a total of 36 threatened and endangered species exist within Golden Gate's legislative boundaries.
The large mammals such as the grizzly bear and tule elk of early California are long gone, but gray fox, bobcats, and mountain lions still inhabit the park.
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