Environmental Policy News

North American Right Whale Among Most Threatened Species

North Pacific right whales are the rarest and most endangered whales on earth. There may be only thirty left in U.S. waters. But this hasn’t always been true. In the mid-1800s, when blubber was big business, these whales were very easy to find—as many as 30 thousand of them were killed in a single decade. And it didn’t stop in the 1800s; well into the 1960s, whaling drove the North Pacific right whale just about to extinction. These days, dangers come from all sides, from a decline of zooplankton, the right whale’s critical food source, to a diminishing gene pool, to increased ocean noise, ship strikes, and ocean pollution.

Right whales are not the only whale species in trouble. According to a new report by the Endangered Species Coalition, entitled Vanishing: Ten American Species Our Children May Never See, a dozen once-common whale species are in dire peril of going extinct.

In addition to the North Pacific right whale, the report features the mountain yellow-legged frog, monarch butterfly, the little brown bat, great white shark, rusty-patched bumblebee, greater sage-grouse, polar bear, Snake River sockeye salmon, and one plant species—the whitebark pine. All of the species chosen were nominated by Endangered Species Coalition member groups from across the country and reviewed by a committee of distinguished scientists for inclusion.

"This report calls attention to the fact that species are vanishing before our eyes,” said Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute, which nominated the little brown bat in partnership with Bat Conservation International and the Center for Biological Diversity. “By including this often-overlooked bat species, which despite its small size is of enormous ecological (and economic) value, the Endangered Species Coalition is building much-needed awareness that this animal is in grave danger of extinction.”

“With each passing day, our children are less and less likely to experience the full beauty of nature and see the kind of wildlife that baby boomers, Gen Xers, and even millennials experienced,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “We owe it to our future generations of Americans to protect our vanishing wildlife and the special places they call home.”

For more information, visit www.vanishingwildlife.org.

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