Earth Day is next week, which means it’s time to celebrate our planet and all of its inhabitants. We here at Chinook Book would like to raise awareness of the threatened animals living in our region and how we can help recover their numbers.
1. Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis)
The lynx is one of the rarest cat species native to the USA. After western farmers won the fight to label gray wolves as “vermin,” allowing them to hunt them into local extinction, the native population of coyotes became bolder and skyrocketed in numbers. With an increased coyote population came a decreased population of native snowshoe hares (the lynx’s main food source), thus reducing lynx numbers tenfold. Combined with the deforestation of their natural habitats for shopping centers and parking lots, Lynx canadensis has faced an uphill battle to survive in Oregon.
Status: CRITICALLY THREATENED (in Oregon)
Why it’s threatened: habitat destruction; habitat fragmentation; deforestation; over-competition
What is being done: Recovery plans are limited to preventing hunting and designating conservation areas, but the reintroduction of gray wolves could help increase Oregon lynx populations.
What you can do: only purchase furniture made from sustainably sourced and farmed wood, which you can find at one of our sustainable furniture retailers. Wood that is harvested from natural Oregon forests serve as shelter and protection for many wild animals, and forest destruction or fragmentation directly affects the survival rates of their residents.
2. Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina)
The northern spotted owl has been the iconic poster child of the Oregonian old-growth forest protection ever since it appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine in 1990. The biggest threats to the northern spotted owl are deforestation, loss of habitat, and competition. Despite their federal and state protection, northern spotted owl populations have been declining steadily since they were placed on the Endangered Species list in 1990.
Why it’s threatened: habitat destruction; habitat fragmentation; deforestation
What is being done: on April 13, 1994, the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) was adopted as a strategy to protect and recover the owl population using 24.5 million acres of protected land over the next century. Oregon Fish & Wildlife is also focusing on regulating the ranges of native barred owl populations which pose a competitive threat to the spotted owls.
What you can do: only purchase sustainably sourced and recycled building materials for your next DIY project from one of our merchants. Wood that is harvested from natural Oregon forests serve as shelter and protection for many wild animals, and forest destruction or fragmentation directly affects the survival rates of their residents.
3. Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta)
Loggerhead sea turtles have been facing extinction for decades due to reckless commercial fishing practices and intentional killings. Nine distinct populations of loggerhead sea turtles have been placed on the endangered species list.
Why it’s threatened: by catch in fishing gear; intentional killing; ocean pollution
What is being done: NOAA and the Fish and Wildlife Service are dedicated to protecting nesting beaches; researching and developing better fishing gear; and monitoring migratory and nesting habitats.
What you can do: only buy seafood that is certified by Seafood Watch. Additionally, to prevent creating more ocean debris, buy in bulk from one of our favorite markets.
And now for a recovery story…
4. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
National populations of USA’s mascot plummeted between 1940 and 1966 because of the toxic pesticide DDT. The United States was so obsessed with DDT in the 1940s that regular sprayings became a kind of event for kids and adults alike. In addition to its carcinogenic properties, DDT also caused the deaths of thousands of predatory birds before it was banned in 1972. After spending 42 years on the endangered species list, the bald eagle was removed by the Fish and Wildlife Service due to significant, successful population increases.
Status: LEAST CONCERN
Why it was threatened: The chemical run-off ended up in bodies of water, which would then contaminate local fish populations. DDT led to something called biomagnification, in which the concentration of the chemical increases exponentially as it climbs the food chain. Once the contaminated fish were ingested by predatory birds, DDT degraded the egg shell calcium compounds, which led to brittle eggs that broke during incubation or failed to hatch at all.
What was done: DDT was banned and the bald eagle was placed on the endangered species list for 42 years.
And spring is the perfect time to remind everyone: