By Michelle Werts

Today is Endangered Species Day. Originally, I was going to honor this special day by posting pictures of cute, cuddly, nifty and sadly endangered species — don’t worry, that’s still happening — but alas, environmental news that affects some of our endangered friends has crept into the headlines this week, so I feel like maybe we should talk about that first.

Smithsonian National Zoo Gorillas
Credit: Smithosonian’s National Zoo/Flickr

A new study released by the University of Washington – Seattle reveals that in within 100 years, about 90 percent of mammals will have lost their native habitat range due to climate change. Of these mammals, 10 percent of them won’t be able to move fast enough to keep up with their shifting habitat. According to the study, the most at-risk species are actually primates because of the changing climate and because they won’t be able to get to live-able conditions fast enough. Also of concern are animals in tropical regions, which are more susceptible and sensitive to climate changes. The mammals that are expected to fare better are those that can move greater distances, such as elk, moose and sloths. Scientists hope that this new research will enable them to focus on creating migration corridors for those animals most in need.

Also released this week was the Center for Biological Diversity’s report stating that 90 percent of species that are listed under the Endangered Species Act are recovering at their predicted rate. Yay! According to the report, species on the list are recovering, on average, within 25 years of placement on the list. The downside to this news is the fact that there are more species that should be listed as endangered or threatened than there are funds to protect them. For instance, last summer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) declared that listing the whitebark pine was warranted, but precluded — meaning that the species should be on the endangered list, but can’t be because of lack of funding. This is why American Forests supports more funding for the FWS budget for endangered species during the appropriations process.

And just what kind of animals and plants is the Endangered Species Act protecting and revitalizing? Let’s take a look.

Polar bears have been listed as threatened since 2008
Polar bears have been listed as threatened since 2008. Credit: USGS
Florida scrub-jay
Florida scrub-jay has been listed as threatened since 1987. Credit: Matthew Paulson (Photomatt28)/Flickr
Green pitcher-plant
Green pitcher-plant has been listed as endangered since 1979. Credit: James Henderson/Golden Delight Honey/
Florida torreya, aka Florida nutmeg
Florida torreya, aka Florida nutmeg, has been listed as endangered since 1984.
Wyoming toad
At its full size, the Wyoming toad is only two inches long and has been listed as endangered since 1984. Credit: Mike D. (wuperruper)/Flickr
Karner blue butterfly
Karner blue butterfly has been listed as endangered since 1992. Credit: Catherine Herms/The Ohio State University/