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

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.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.