Bald eagles, peregrine falcons and red-cockaded woodpeckers in North Carolina have one thing in common: their populations, at one time severely depleted, have recovered significantly, thanks in part to the protection they have enjoyed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
To raise awareness about the threats other endangered species face, as well as the many success stories in species recovery, May 20 has been designated Endangered Species Day. The day, started by the U.S. Senate in 2008, highlights the importance of protecting endangered species, celebrates endangered species success stories and provides information on what people can do to help protect endangered species in their state. In North Carolina, more than 220 terrestrial and aquatic species are either federally or state-listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern. The Northern saw-whet owl, bog turtle, shortnose sturgeon, northern flying squirrel, Carolina heelsplitter, loggerhead seaturtle and southern hognose snake are just a few Tarheel species that need special protection attention afforded by state and federal endangered species laws to help their populations return to healthy levels.
Biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Wildlife Diversity Program conduct research and management projects that focus on endangered and other nongame species. Their work with bald eagles, peregrine falcons and the red-cockaded woodpecker of Sandhills and Coastal longleaf pine forests, has helped bring these animals back from the brink of extinction in the state.
North Carolinians can do their part to help Commission biologists keep North Carolina’s imperiled wildlife from disappearing altogether. Landowners in the Piedmont and coastal regions of the state can enroll their properties into the Safe Harbor Program, a program that helps landowners help the red-cockaded woodpecker. Landowners who enroll their properties in the program agree to implement land management activities that benefit the federally endangered bird in exchange for assurances regarding Endangered Species Act compliance.
Another program beneficial to both landowners and wildlife is the Wildlife Conservation Land Program, which provides qualifying landowners with an economic incentive to manage their lands for any endangered, threatened or special-concern species found on their property. Landowners agree to manage their property for protected wildlife species or priority wildlife habitats and, in turn, can apply for a reduced property tax assessment. Coastal residents can volunteer to monitor sea turtle nests year-round through the North Carolina Sea Turtle Protection Program. The program, started by the Commission in 1983, is vital to helping biologists protect the five sea turtle species that nest along our coast, all of which are listed as federally endangered. Through the program, biologists and volunteers monitor sea turtle nest activity, document reproductive success and mortality, and protect beach habitat for sea turtle nesting.
Mountain region residents can volunteer to monitor species such as peregrine falcons, salamanders and frogs, northern flying squirrels or bats.
Anyone interested in volunteering should visit the Commission’s website, www.ncwildlife.org/give or e-mail, volunteerwd.org. Other volunteer opportunities are listed on the N.C. Conservation Registry, an online database that records, tracks and maps conservation projects that are part of a larger North Carolina effort to track projects that work toward implementing the N.C. Wildlife Action Plan.
Another way North Carolinians can help endangered species is by donating to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. The money from this fund is used to support nongame and endangered species research, conservation and management, and to provide matching funds for federal and other grants.
Donations are tax deductible, and donate can be made by:
• Checking line no. 30 on their N.C. State Income Tax form;
• Mailing in a donation form
• Going online to www.ncwildlife.org/give
• Registering a vehicle or trailer with a N.C. Wildlife Conservation license plate
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