National Endangered Species Day spreads awareness

UTAH — Every year the third Friday in May is National Endangered Species Day, and May 19 marks the 18th anniversary since its establishment in 2006. The goal of a dedicated day for endangered species is to spread awareness of the importance of conservation, habitat protection, and efforts that further those causes. While there are many sad stories concerning endangered species on the brink of extinction, there have also been many success stories across the U.S. since adopting the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973.

Over 40 species of plants and animals are listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA in Utah. Among the well-known from the list that is classified as endangered are the California condor and Colorado pikeminnow. Possibly one of the greatest success stories from efforts generated from its listing is the June Sucker that in 2021 was down-listed from endangered to threatened.

A June sucker.
A June sucker. Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

While federal agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others might take the lead on instituting protections nationwide, many state agencies are also involved in providing support with the goal of finding solutions to help reverse the population declines.

A Mexican spotted owl in a tree. These owls are currently listed as threatened.
A Mexican spotted owl in a tree. These owls are currently listed as threatened. Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Shaula Hedwall.

In Utah, The Endangered Species Mitigation Fund plays a prominent role in the fight. The fund, managed by the Division of Wildlife Resources, tackles projects both on the preventive side with the goal of trying to help species before they need to be listed and on the recovery side of things for currently listed species in need of help. In a recent announcement made earlier in May, money from the ESMF will allow for 42 wildlife conservation projects to take place over the 2023 fiscal year.

Utah’s Endangered Species Mitigation Fund allocates $4.4 million to conservation projects in 2023

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