Over years of experience directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and leading Defenders of Wildlife I’ve watched with deepening concern as an increasing number of North America’s animals and plants have edged toward extinction. With your unyielding support, our dedicated staff, in collaborative partnership with diverse interests, have mobilized to help save many species from the brink—the bald eagle, the American bison, the gray wolf. But still many more species are facing extinction, and in May our observations were affirmed in a stunning report.
A comprehensive study by an independent intergovernmental body verified that we are losing biodiversity at a global scale—faster than ever before in human history. As many as 1 million species are today threatened with extinction, and humans are the cause. We’ve overexploited animals and plants nearly beyond recovery, destroyed wildlife habitat, polluted our air and water, disrupted climates and spread invasive species around the globe. Nature is unraveling as humans appropriate an ever-greater share of our planet’s resources. There is now no question we need stronger, bolder and more ambitious laws and courageous leadership to head off what scientists widely are calling the sixth mass extinction.
The first step is to strengthen bedrock laws, like the Endangered Species Act (ESA), to protect species and our planet. Vulnerable plants and animals literally depend on it, and in turn, through our dependence on nature, we do as well. The report’s irrefutable facts highlight the urgency of our responsibility to protect nature—a clear call to action that the status quo is not enough.
Thank you for standing with us on behalf of wildlife and habitats in your community and beyond, holding your members of Congress and federal policymakers accountable and helping make our tireless work defending the ESA, imperiled wildlife and special landscapes possible.