Defenders Magazine

Fall 2017

Volume 93, Issue 1


Grizzly Bears, Photo: Michael Nichols/Ronan Donovan/National Park Service/National Geographic Creative

They lumber amid thick sagebrush, juniper shrubs and Ross’s bentgrass. They’re seemingly unconcerned by the tourists standing wide-eyed a football field away. They pick at things, eating constantly, shifting between a slow amble to an agile run that defies their size and heft. They can weigh up to 600 pounds, and stand more than six feet tall on their hind legs. During spring and summer months, when the sightseeing season heats up in Yellowstone National Park, crowds—gathered with binoculars and spotting scopes—have the same response on seeing them: first gasps, then smiles. Grizzly bears fascinate us. When they emerge from their winter dens, dug out in the fall beneath rocky shelter or along sandy slopes and are spotted gorging themselves on new vegetation or carcasses of bison and elk that died over the winter, we know that spring has arrived. When female grizzlies fiercely defend their cubs, we relate to these mother bears with compassion and understanding. We would do the same for our own children. The grizzly bear embodies our natural heritage and our fascination with the vast wilderness of our great nation.


Right Whales, Photo credit:  Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Research Permit 594-1759
In a shocking and tragic blow to the recovery of North Atlantic right whales, at least 13 whales have died this summer—11 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada and two in U.S. waters off Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.
Wolf, Photo credit:  © Larry Lamsa (captive)
An endangered border species already on the brink of extinction faces even more uncertainty now that the federal government’s long-overdue draft recovery plan ignores the recommendations of some leading wolf biologists.
Red Cockaded Woodpecker, Photo: SG Maka/Vireo
Because woodpeckers and the timber industry favor large, older pines over smaller ones, logging decimated their population in the last century.
While species protection sounds like a job for politicians and scientists, your daily actions make a big difference, too.