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Wildlife In Peril: California's Endangered Species Face An Uncertain Future

Published by Connor Wesson on March 30, 2022

Near the end of President Trump's controversial time in the White House, he took a number of fatal swings at the Endangered Species Act, a federal law protecting fragile wildlife and ecosystems across the country. By weakening the restrictions on development and resource extraction in favor of the administration's favorite polluting industries, President Trump carelessly put the future of thousands of endangered species in danger.

Key Points:
  • California's Salmon are in danger of extinction, Governor Newsom has the power to save them

  • New developments threaten the already endangered San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat

Endangered chinook salmon make their way up the Sacramento River. (Ken Davis)

In the time conservationists wait for a new onset of biological opinions from federal courts, the endangered winter run chinook salmon and other San Fransisco Bay-Delta estuary fish species are experiencing rapid decline.

Biological Opinion: includes conservation recommendations to further the recovery of listed species, and it also may include reasonable and prudent measures, as needed, to minimize any "take" of listed species. - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, under the destructive Trump-era biological opinions, is giving the maximum amount of water from the Shasta Dam to its contractors; which is not allowing enough cold water for salmon eggs to properly fry in the pools stemming from the dam. Over 97% of 2021's salmon brood year dying in a short stretch of river caused major alarm amongst conservationists and fisherman for the future of this endangered species.

Not enough water: San Fransisco's estuary experiences low tides and drought. (Steve Proehl / The Image Bank)

Issues facing the San Francisco Bay stem across California's estuaries and wetlands, with a variety of species in danger of extinction. As resource extraction for California's monstrous agriculture industry continues, calls for Governor Newsom to take action are being heard in Sacramento.

What can be done to save the endangered winter run chinook salmon?

Governor Newsom must require the Board of Reclamation to reduce the amount of water allocated to the Central Valley Water Project, so that more of Northern California's local water supply may remain in place. The sooner action is taken, the more likely it is that the chinook salmon and other native fish species will survive until new biological opinions are put in place by the Biden Administration.

The San Bernardino kangaroo rat has experienced more than 95% natural habitat degradation. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Many of the species most impacted by climate change and human development are often those seen by human eyes the least. For example, the little known San Bernardino kangaroo rat, a native rodent species to the San Bernardino Valley, is under serious threat from human development.

The kangaroo rat, who earned its name in the way that it hops to avoid predators, has lost 95% of its natural habitat to human development since 1998, the same year it was listed as an endangered species.

Conservationists attempted to transplant small populations of the small rodent to new desert regions, though they were mysteriously unsuccessful. A new battle has emerged in the fight to protect this species, as housing developers hope to build on one of the final confirmed habitats for the kangaroo rat.

The western desert tortoise has a lifespan of 50 - 80 years in the wild. (Nevada Department of Wildlife)

The San Bernardino kangaroo rat is not the first Californian desert species to earn its endangered status due to human development, other's include the western desert tortoise, and Southern California mountain yellow-legged frog.

With any luck, the United States and California governments will take serious action to protect the species threatened with extinction before they are wiped off the face of the earth.


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