April is Earth Month, and it’s a time when we celebrate the wonders of our Earth. But it’s also a time to acknowledge the problems that our environment is facing.
In the United States there are approximately 1,540 wildlife species listed as endangered, and that number is rising quickly. [i]
The theme of Earth Day 2019, “Protect Our Species,” highlights the rapid extinction of Earth’s plants and wildlife and how human action and climate change are accelerating the harm. “Habitat destruction, exploitation, and climate change are driving the loss of half of the world’s wild animal population.” [ii]
These problems threaten Tennessee species as well. As of July 2016, Tennessee had over 75 species classified as endangered.
Below are 5 Tennessee species that have become endangered due to habitat loss, hunting or poaching, pollution, pesticides, or climate change.
- Obey Crayfish (Cambarus obeyensis)
This crayfish is exceedingly rare! In fact, it’s only found in Tennessee. Learn More
- Crown Darter (Etheostoma corona)
This colorful little fish is only found in Tennessee and Alabama. Learn More
- Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis)
This species only lives in 2 places, Tennessee and Japan, and is endangered in both locations. Learn More
- Streamside Salamander (Ambystoma barbouri)
A group of Tennessee students were awarded gold medals at the Middle Tennessee STEM Expo in 2017 for their efforts to save this species. Learn More
- Bachman’s Sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis) [iv]
This bird was named after John Bachman, a minister, social activist, and naturalist who collaborated with John James Audubon. Learn More
The news of human actions causing wildlife population decrease is tragic, but there is a positive side to this story: humans are causing the damage, and humans can stop it.
“The good news is that the rate of extinctions can still be slowed,” EarthDay.org says, “and many of our declining, threatened and endangered species can still recover if we work together…” [ii]
On its website, Earth Day 2019 states that its goals are to accomplish the following:
- “Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.
- Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.
- Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.
- Encourage individual actions such as adopting plant based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use.” [ii]
For more information on how Climate change affects Tennessee wildlife, visit: https://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife.html
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