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Defenders Magazine

Fall 2013

Volume 88, Issue 4


I was hot, sweaty and itchy from bug bites, but I was exactly where I wanted to be: in the untrammeled remote reaches at of Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, entrusted with the lives of five endangered peregrine falcon fledglings. A 20-year-old college student in 1978, I felt lucky that The Peregrine Fund had chosen me to spend the summer as a hack site attendant—a falconry term for someone who feeds, waters and protects the birds before they fly off into the wild. That summer provided me an opportunity to participate in a remarkable recovery effort. Back then, peregrine falcons sat on the edge of extinction, compromised by DDT. The pesticide—banned in 1972—accumulates in tissues and interferes with eggshell formation. Falcons were laying eggs with such thin shells they often broke during incubation or otherwise failed to hatch. To help them recover, biologists began breeding the falcon in captivity and releasing them in the wild in 1974.


Habitat destruction from plowing the land for crops, exotic diseases and widespread poisoning of its prairie dog prey almost caused North America’s only native ferret species to disappear for good.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a truly landmark law that solidified our commitment to conserve our nation’s wildlife.
Bison gained rights to some of their old stomping grounds on the Great Plains when the Montana Supreme Court in June reversed a lower court ruling that had prevented their return.
Desert Tortoise, Photo: Justin Ennis / Flickr user Averain
Renewable power comes with many benefits. 
The catch is finding ways to make it “smart-from-the-start” when it involves wildlife habitat.
Despite their outsized place in pop culture, great white sharks remain poorly understood.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Mexican gray wolves roamed freely, their howls echoing through the southwest.
Having colorful little fish darting around a home aquarium appears harmless enough, but the hobby can also have hidden environmental costs upstream.
The waterways of the United States and other industrialized nations are awash with the miracles of modern living.
The prairie pothole region of the Great Plains is the most important and most embattled waterfowl habitat in North America, and it’s long had an ally in the United States Farm Bill—until recently.

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Photo credit: ©Fotohansel/Adobe
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