In the News: Endangered Species and Natural Disasters

The aftermath of natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires can be very horrific. Whole towns have to restart and rebuild. Not only are people left affected, so are animals. There are many rare and endangered species that have been wiped out after hurricanes or wildfires. In this New York Times article by Livia Albeck-Ripka, she talks about the decline of endangered species.

Many Mount Graham rare red squirrels were killed in Arizona this past June due to a lightening storm causing a 48,000 acre fire. 217 of the 252 squirrels left were killed from the lack of resources. There were even some squirrels with radio transmitters that burned into ash because of the lightening. The storm also caused the squirrels to lose their nourishment that they have saved for the winter, so there is a lot of problems with the 35 left to survive the winter.Wildfires claim the lives if many different animal species, not just red squirrels. The Mexican spotted owl is also very vulnerable. Another species that is endangered are the mountain yellow-legged frogs. There are only 400 living remotely currently but are also in trouble for the winter since the wildfires have taken out most of their shelter. Wildfires kill off most of the vegetation which impacts the food chain and many species suffer from the loss.

Hurricanes are also a natural disaster that leaves huge gaps in endangered species. Hurricane Harvey brought bad news for the rare prairie chickens. Specialists at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildfire Refuge have had to take matters into their own hands and start a breeding program for the chickens. Their main concern is the limited amount of resources left after the hurricane. As for hurricane Irma, their biggest concern was for the Barbuda warbler and the Everglade snail kite.

Although natural disasters are an act of mother nature and we cannot prevent them fully, we can lessen the effects. Climate change can augment the effects of these events.

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