New Stamps Spotlight Endangered Species; Feature Florida Panther
TAMPA, FL — America’s natural bounty includes an astounding variety of unique and priceless wildlife. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which marks its 50th anniversary in 2023, more than 1,300 imperiled plant and animal species are safeguarded to increase their chances of survival. The Florida panther is among the endangered species.
On Friday, May 19, the First-Day-Of-Issue stamp dedication ceremony took place in Wall, South Dakota. Participants included U.S. Postal Service Vice President, Government Relations and Public Policy Peter Pastre, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams, and National Geographic Explorer and Photographer Joel Sartore.
The pane, which may be purchased at your local Post Office, presents a photographic portfolio of 20 endangered animal species, which are found within the 50 states and American territories and possessions or living near U.S. borders.
Top Row: Laysan teal, black-footed ferret, Roanoke logperch, thick-billed parrot
Second Row from top: Candy darter, Florida panther, masked bobwhite quail, Key Largo cotton mouse
Third Row from top: Lower Keys marsh rabbit, Wyoming toad, Vancouver Island marmot, golden-cheeked warbler
Fourth Row from top: Guam Micronesian kingfisher, San Francisco garter snake, Mexican gray wolf, Attwater’s prairie chicken
The colorful and charismatic endangered creatures presented on the stamps are selected from among more than 13,000 species featured in Joel Sartore’s National Geographic Photo Ark project which aims to document every species living in the world’s zoos, aquariums, and wildlife sanctuaries; inspire action through education; and help protect wildlife by supporting on-the-ground conservation efforts.
On Dec. 27, 1973, President Richard Nixon signed the ESA into law. In the 50 years since, other nations worldwide have emulated the pioneering U.S. initiative. The ESA provides a framework to conserve and protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats both domestically and abroad.
Under the ESA, more than 1,670 U.S. species and 698 foreign species are safeguarded to increase their chances of survival. Scientists estimate that hundreds of species have been rescued from the brink of extinction in the United States since the ESA began. A species found to need protection is listed under the ESA as either threatened or endangered, the latter defined as “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.”
CITY / STATE
Palm Beach Zoo
The Laysan teal (Anas laysanensis)
is the world’s rarest duck.
Populations have dramatic ups and
downs within its small home range in
the northwestern Hawaiian islands.
Careful reintroduction of captive-
bred populations, introductions to
other well-suited islands, and
eradication of invasive rodents are
bolstering hope for its survival.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
The Black-footed ferret (Mustela
nigripes) is one of America’s most
endangered mammals. In the late
19th and early 20th centuries, when
grassland was largely converted
to farmland, the resulting decline
in prairie dog populations deprived
the ferrets of their food source.
Conservation efforts have
bolstered populations, though
diseases still imperil the species.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
The Wyoming toad (Anaxyrus
baxteri). A few years after a
dramatic 1970s population crash,
this toad was feared extinct—and
did indeed die out in the wild.
Existing today mostly through
captive-breeding programs, they
are being cautiously reintroduced
to carefully monitored Wyoming habitat. Like amphibians worldwide,
this species is hypersensitive to pollution and fungal infections.
ATTWATER’S PRAIRIE CHICKEN
The Attwater’s prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupidoattwateri),
One of America’s rarest birds, is the namesake of a Texas refuge
established to prevent its
extinction. Unrestricted early-20th
century hunting collapsed
populations of this grouse species,
and humans have repurposed most
of its former coastal prairie
habitat. Further, invasive fire ants
decimate insects the chicks need
Wild Bird Sanctuary
The Thick-billed parrot
(Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha). By
around the early 1990s, the parrot
had disappeared from its U.S. range
in the Southwest. Mexican forests
are now the bird’s only home; the
cutting of old-growth trees
threatens the survival of this
beautiful parrot. Trapping for the
illegal pet trade may also
contribute to ever-shrinking flock sizes.
The Nashville crayfish
(Faxoniusshoupi) lives only in the
streams around its namesake city.
Promising programs involve the
community to remedy habitat
degradation caused by
agricultural runoff, siltation, and
invasive species. Measures include
habitat revitalization and stenciled
“No Dumping” signs on storm drains
that spill into this endangered
invertebrate’s home waters.
Wild Canid Survival and Research Center
The Mexican gray wolf
(Canis lupus baileyi) is the nation’s
rarest gray wolf subspecies. For
three decades it virtually
disappeared from its U.S. range in
New Mexico and Arizona until it was reintroduced in 1998. Today its
numbers are growing steadily. Cooperative efforts with Mexico
give wildlife biologists hope for
The Aquatic Resource Recovery Center at White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery
White Sulphur Springs
The Candy darter (Etheostoma osburni). For the last few decades, the gene pool of the candy darter has become diluted from interbreeding
with an invasive, more aggressive
darter species—likely introduced
as live bait. Anglers can help by not
discarding unused live bait in
streams anywhere, and by not using live bait at all in the candy darter’s Virginia–West Virginia range.
SAN FRANCISCO GARTER SNAKE
The San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia).
The beautifully colored snake lives in grassy aquatic habitats on
California’s San Francisco
Peninsula and environs. One of the
first species listed as endangered,
its imperilment partly results from diminishing populations of the
frogs it favors as food, and by
habitat loss and fragmentation.
DESERT BIGHORN SHEEP
Sonora Desert Museum
The Desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni). Populations of these sheep are again rebounding
after dramatic changes. Though the sheep have adapted to withstand drought, competition with
introduced livestock for scarce
water and forage took a huge toll
in the early 20th century. After a
midcentury comeback, an epidemic struck in 1978. Captive breeding and careful management are keys to the latest rebound.
Lowry Park Zoo
The Florida panther (Puma
concolor couguar), the only East Coast cougar, is now isolated and restricted to about five percent of its historic range due to increased
human population and land
development in the Southeast.
Vehicle collisions take a toll on the
panther’s numbers, so drivers in
this wildcat’s habitat are asked to
be particularly alert and slow
KEY LARGO COTTON MOUSE
Photographed wild at the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge
The Key Largo cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus allapaticola). Larger and differently colored
than other cotton mice, this mouse
now ranges solely on its namesake Florida island. It depends on
hardwood forest habitat that is
now diminished and fragmented.
Pets prey on the mouse, so keeping house cats indoors can help
preserve this animal.
LOWER KEYS MARSH RABBIT
The Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri),
darker and smaller than other
marsh rabbit subspecies, feeds on grasses, succulent herbs, and
sedges in the Florida Keys. Its
native marshland range has been reduced by development and
isolated by rising sea level; its
numbers have been diminished by
pet cats, vehicle collisions, and
VANCOUVER ISLAND MARMOT
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The Vancouver Island marmot
(Marmota vancouverensis). Captive breeding programs may be the
only way to save this marmot. Transformation of its habitat due
to logging and climate change and increased predation, including by invasive species, have contributed
to its imperilment. This large
ground squirrel is named after its
home in British Columbia, Canada.
MISSISSIPPI SAND HILL CRANE
Audubon Center for Endangered Species
New Orleans, LA
The Mississippi sandhill crane
(Antigone canadensis pulla).
Through a managed breeding flock, numbers of the crane are being bolstered but are still perilously
low. Captive-bred birds are regularly introduced into a wetland wildlife refuge in Mississippi that bears the subspecies’ name. Land development and invasive plants have gradually diminished the Gulf Coast habitat of this four-foot-tall bird.
The Roanoke logperch (Percina
rex). River engineering and water pollution from erosion have taken
their toll on the logperch. This
small fish uses its pointy nose to
flip stones on the bottoms of
streams, revealing aquatic insects
to eat. However, dirt in the water interferes with their feeding, and
only a few isolated populations are left in rivers in VA and NC.
The Piping plover (Charadrius
melodus). Especially endangered in
the Great Lakes area but also
found along the Atlantic coastline, the
piping plover nests directly on sandy areas such as beaches, tidal flats,
and sandbars. It is vulnerable not
only to predators but also to
human activity, including flooding
when waters are released from
MASKED BOBWHITE QUAIL
The Masked bobwhite quail
(Colinus virginanus ridgwayi).
Believed extinct a century ago, this quail is on its way to a comeback at
a southern Arizona refuge, where it
has been captive bred from parents discovered in nearby Sonora,
Mexico. Foster fathers of a similar subspecies teach and protect reintroduced chicks, and habitat restoration provides appropriate vegetative cover from predators
and desert heat.
GUAM MICRONESIAN KINGFISHER
The Guam Micronesian kingfisher (Halcyon cinnamominacinnamomina)
is now virtually extinct in the wild. Conservation in captive breeding programs is its only hope. Invasive brown tree snakes eat their eggs
and are largely culpable, though
other invasive species, human development, and insecticide use
have also taken a toll.
The golden-cheeked warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia), a small songbird ranging in Texas, Mexico, and Central America, is vulnerable to habitat loss; the forests where it breeds are being cut for logging
and to clear land for agricultural
use and other development. To
thrive, this warbler requires
sizable areas of tall, dense, mature forest.
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