Can One Person Really Make A Difference?

Can one person really make a difference? Rachel Carson did – she wrote the book Silent Spring just over 50 years ago in 1962 which woke up the American public to the fact that we were killing off our wildlife at an alarming rate – with many on the brink of extinction. Despite the claims and disinformation of the chemicals companies she laid out the scientific proof that DDT was responsible for the decline in birds of prey. Her book and public awareness ultimately lead to the Endangered Species Act signed into law in 1973.

Each of the animals in this album would have been extinct by today had it not been for the Endangered Species Act turning their fate around.

American Alligator – nearly gone by the 1960s for their skins to produce purses and shoes, protected in 1967, they were removed from the list just 20 years later after a hearty come back.

A jumbled mass of juvenile American alligators, Everglades National Park, Florida, USA

Whooping Cranes – hunted for their feathers for fashion there were only 16 birds left in 1941. In 1967 under the act’s protection the few remaining birds were rounded up for captive breeding and today several hundred exist in the wild.

Whooping Crane amidst Sandhill Cranes, New Mexico, USA (Endangered)

Bald Eagle – By 1963 there were just 417 breeding pairs in the lower 48 due to DDT, today there are over 10,000 and you no longer have to go to a zoo to see our nations symbol. Likewise Peregrine Falcons are doing well with many taking to the skyscrapers of large cities to raise the next generation while preying on pigeons.

Bald eagle on nest, Orcas Island, Washington

Grizzly Bear – by the 1970s there were around 140 bears, mostly in Yellowstone National Park, when they were put under protection in 1973 – today there are some 1200-1400 in the lower 48 (still far from their original estimated 50,000 at the time of Lewis and Clark).

Grizzly or brown bear, Glacier National Park, Montana

Grey Wolf – virtually extinct by the 1930s due to hunting, protected and reintroduced into Yellowstone in the 1970s there are an estimated 5,000 wolves in the lower 48 today.

The Leopold pack of grey wolves, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Californian Condor – In 1987 the last 22 Condors were captured in the wild for captive breeding and today around 200 live in the wild. Alive, but still one of the rarest birds on the planet.

California condor, Colorado River, Arizona

mountain ridge