Endangered Species Day, a Time to Reflect

Sacramento, California - The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) notes Endangered Species Day with both optimism and concern. This is the ninth year this special day has been recognized around the world with related workshops, restoration projects, exhibits and even a festival at the U.S. Botanic Garden in our nation’s capitol.

It is important to notice and take preventive action when a plant or animal species’ population has declined so much that extinction in the foreseeable future is possible. As the great naturalist John Muir said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

“It’s easy to think nobody will miss one kind of bug or fish,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “But every living thing is either a predator or prey that feeds another. We might not miss mosquitos, but the bats that eat them by the thousands certainly would.”

California was one of the first states to enact statutes protecting rare and endangered animal species (in 1970 – the year of the first Earth Day) and remains a world leader in environmental protection. In 1984 the State Legislature consolidated and expanded the 1970 laws, creating the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). CESA was written to parallel the federal Endangered Species Act, and made CDFW the lead state agency to implement it. The statute is in Chapter 1.5, section 2050 of the Fish and Game Code.

CESA makes it illegal to import, export, “take,” possess, purchase, sell or attempt to do any of those actions to species that are designated as threatened or endangered or are candidates for listing, unless permitted by CDFW. “Take” is defined as “hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill.” There are 156 species, subspecies and varieties of plants and 80 species of animals that are protected as threatened or endangered under CESA.

Under CESA, CDFW may permit the take or possession of threatened, endangered or candidate species for scientific, educational or management purposes, and may also permit take of these species that is incidental to otherwise lawful activities if certain conditions are met. Some of the conditions for incidental take are that the take is minimized and fully mitigated, adequate funding is ensured for this mitigation and the activity will not jeopardize the continued existence of the species.

Endangered species lists and related information –including the full text of CESA – can be accessed online at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/nongame/t_e_spp/.

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