Kids' Environmental Report Card: Endangered Species poll

The Kids' Environmental Report Card poll results show that the majority of kids feel our treatment of endangered species deserves a grade of C-minus.

According to the poll, our effort at species protection "needs improvement." That is better than an F ("Awful!") but not nearly as good as an A-plus ("Great!") or even a B ("OK").

The C-minus grade takes into account the successes and failures of the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Since the federal government passed this law in 1973, several populations of once-endangered animals and plants have grown considerably. Bald eagles, American alligators, gray whales, whooping cranes, and Eggert's sunflowers have made dramatic comebacks and been removed from the nation's endangered species list. However, for each of these "success stories." many other species have been added to this list.

Imperiled Insects

For most people, it is easiest to get excited about losses of large animals, such as eagles or whales. Few people are concerned with endangered insects, though. This may be because most insects are small and easy to overlook, according to the Xerces Society, an Oregon-based organization devoted to protecting butterflies, bees and other insects from extinction.

Presently in the United States, 160 insect species are ether extinct or missing. Many scientists believe that insect losses in the world's tropical areas may be much greater. Most of these species have been threatened by changes to their natural habitats. Without the food, shelter, and breeding opportunities that these habitats provide, the insects can no longer survive.

By focusing our efforts to protect habitats for endangered animals and plants, we could improve our grade for saving endangered species, from a C-minus to an A-plus in the years to come.