ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Both the World Bird Sanctuary and the Endangered Wolf Center are located in St. Louis County. But the nonprofit organizations are on the front lines when it comes to saving endangered species around the world.
“So the American Red Wolf that you can see at the Endangered Wolf Center is the most endangered wolf in the world. There’s less than 30 left in the wild,” says Regina Mossotti, director of Animal Care and Conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center. “And it’s species like that that the Endangered Species Act was created for, to protect animals, cause when their populations are that low they need that extra support, that extra protection to help make sure they don’t go extinct.”
When the Endangered Species Act was signed into law by former President Richard Nixon, it began protection of more than 1,600 species of animals and plants in the United States and its territories. But new changes will allow federal authorities to determine the economic cost of protecting a species.
Roger Holloway, Deputy Director of the World Bird Sanctuary, said the Endangered Species Act has saved species before – in particular, the bald eagle.
“That’s our national symbol. That’s the one that’s benefited the most from the Endangered Species Act,” he said.
“The bald eagle was endangered when I started here,” says Holloway. “Now it is not. The peregrine falcon was endangered and now it is not. The barn owl was endangered in the Midwest. And now it’s not. So there’s a lot of success with the attention paid to endangered species and people learning about that.”
Mossotti said more than 50 species have been taken off the list since the law was enacted in 1973.
“By saving endangered species, we are making the ecosystem healthier,” she said. “But what a lot of people don’t realize is it’s making the environment healthy for us as well."