These 14 photos of beautiful American wildlife remind us why we need to protect them.

When you think of an endangered species, what comes to mind?

African elephants or wild tigers in India? What about pandas in China?

But the truth is, we don’t have to look that far away to find endangered and vulnerable animal species. We have a bunch right here at home in the U.S. And a lot of them are threatened with extinction because of the things that we do to them, like build roads through their habitats or pollute the places where they live.


Since 1973, these animals have enjoyed some protections thanks to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Over 1,600 vulnerable plant and animal species in the United States are covered by this federal law, which provides for their conservation and protection by restricting human activities that threaten them and making it a crime to harm or kill one of the species on the list.

Since it was signed into law, the ESA has helped several species recover — including the bald eagle, which was removed from the endangered species list in 2007 because its population had sufficiently recovered.

The law also benefits people because when it protects animals and their habitats, it helps provide us with clean air and water too.

So, what are some of the North American animals under threat today and what is being done to help protect them?  

Here are just a few of the animals on that list:

1. The gray wolf was mostly exterminated from the lower 48 states because humans hunted and killed them out of fear or to protect livestock.

Today, conservationists are working to help wolf populations recover in a few places — reintroduction projects have helped return wolves to some of their former homes.

2. Loggerhead sea turtles are the most common marine turtle species seen in U.S. waters,  but they're threatened by pollution, shrimp trawling, and development in their nesting areas.

Photo via iStock.

3. The black-footed ferret is the only ferret native to North America but there are only about 370 left in the wild.

They are one of the most endangered carnivore species in the world because of disease, lack of habitat, and because humans poisoned their number one prey — prairie dogs. Once thought to be completely extinct, they were brought back with captive-breeding efforts.

4. The Florida panther once lived in the woodlands and swamps of the Southeast. Today, it is one of the most endangered mammals on Earth with only 100 left in the wild.

The panther's population was decimated after European settlers arrived in the 1600s because they destroyed and fragmented its habitat. The Florida panther is considered an "umbrella species" because protecting this apex predator also keeps its ecosystem healthy and balanced.

5. The North Atlantic right whale gets its name because it was once considered the "right" whale to hunt.

This whale species lives along the Atlantic coast of North America and is still one of the most endangered whale species in the world, even though it has been protected from whaling since the 1930s. Today, it is threatened by ship collisions, entanglement in fishing nets, and ocean noise.

6. The San Joaquin kit fox is a tiny fox — about the size of a domestic cat — and it is one of the most endangered animals in California.

They were once relatively common in California, but after a lot of their grassland habitat was converted into farms and orchards, their population declined. Today, only about 7,000 remain.

7. The piping plover is a small shore bird that lives along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, as well as in the northern Great Plains.

Photo via iStock.

Piping plovers are very sensitive to the presence of humans and too much disturbance on the beach can cause them to abandon their nests. They are also threatened by habitat loss and predators.

8. The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is found only in the state of Washington, where its sagebush habitat has been mostly converted to agricultural land or destroyed by human developments.

9. Pronghorns have the longest land migration in North America but this migration is endangered. They are also the fastest land animal on the continent but they are experiencing increasing run-ins with humans and property developments. And two subspecies of pronghorn are already listed on the ESA.

Photo via iStock

10. California condors are the largest bird in North America, with average wingspans of nine-and-a-half feet. For most of the 20th century, their population declined so quickly, they almost went completely extinct.

Photo via iStock.

Many of the birds were killed by poison ingestion and illegal egg collection — which can be devastating because they only lay one egg every two years. At the lowest point, in 1987, their numbers dropped to only 10 birds. Today, thanks to captive breeding, there about 127 birds in the wild — but their fate is still uncertain.

11. The whooping crane is the tallest bird in North America and it is critically endangered.

Photo via iStock.

In the 1800s and 1900s, the species was almost wiped out by habitat loss and hunting — and by 1941, only 15 birds remained. Conservationists worked with local, federal, and international governments to try to save the species, and while they aren't out of the woods just yet, their numbers are slowly growing.

12. Monarch butterflies spend most of their lives migrating across North America, and this journey has become more dangerous for them over recent years.

Photo via bark/Flickr.

Illegal logging, deforestation, agriculture, forest fires, climate change, and increased development all pose threats to this butterfly's migration. Despite the fact that the population of monarch butterfly has declined by 80%, it is not currently protected by the ESA — though the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is in the process of determining whether that will soon change.

These are just a few of the many endangered or threatened wildlife species in North America — and if they are going to continue to survive, they need our help.

They need laws, like the ESA, to protect them, they need scientists working on conservation efforts to keep them alive, and perhaps most importantly, they need support and engagement from people to help work toward their recovery.

There has been a lot of pressure lately to weaken federal wildlife protection laws like the ESA or to de-list animals before they are fully recovered. If laws are weakened, if conservation budgets are cut, or if policy falls short, it will become even more important for us to step up and take preservation into our own hands to make sure that these animals stay safe. After all, without us, they could go extinct.  

But with an engaged and informed public, we can keep fighting the good fight to protect these species for generations to come.

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Rocky Mountain Wolf Project
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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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