Oregon’s Sealife is in Danger

In the state of Oregon, there are many different species of animals struggling to survive. From coastal regions to the more desert-like locations, endangered and threatened animals range from frogs and turtles, to many different birds. What is being done to try to save these animals? 

In 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was signed into law. The ESA provides a structure to conserve and protect threatened and endangered plants and animals at both a national and global level. Worldwide, there are 2,444 animals listed under the ESA. 1,618 of these animals are found in the United States alone. In the U.S., 884 plants, 307 invertebrates, 163 fish, 95 birds, 96 mammals, 36 reptiles, 35 amphibians, and two fungi are listed under the ESA.

In Madras, farmers are experiencing water shortages as water is being conserved to try and save the spotted frog. The population decline in spotted frogs is attributed to an increase in farmland, overgrazing, nonnative plant invasions, the introduction of bullfrogs and nonnative fish, and a general decline in available habitat resources. While the conservation of water may help save the spotted frog, it is hurting crop production in Central Oregon, a location that already experiences little rainfall because of its high desert climate. In addition to water conservation, efforts are underway to remove bullfrogs from the habitat of spotted frogs. 

Due to wildfires, deforestation, and land development, Oregon’s Northern spotted owls were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. Efforts to save the spotted owl were largely ignored until 2011, when a recovery plan was created. It contained a list of recommendations for protecting the remaining spotted owl population, including the removal of invasive owls from the forests where spotted owl populations are still found. However, with the ever-increasing demand for lumber, the number of spotted owls is in rapid decline. Unless the demand for wood-based products declines over the next few years and forests are maintained to reduce wildfire risk, proper habitats for spotted owls will disappear in as little as ten years. 

The information on endangered and threatened birds in the state of Oregon is not all negative. Part of the efforts to save the bald eagle in Oregon, a symbolic bird, included laws created to protect them. They were widely successful and the species was delisted in 2007. This proves that threatened and critically endangered animals stand a chance at thriving if efforts are made to conserve their habitats and protect them from human-caused harm. 

There are six species of sea turtles in the United States, all of which are listed as endangered. In Oregon, there are four: the green turtle, leatherback, loggerhead, and Olivia Ridley. All sea turtles are under threat of extinction due to fishing habits, as well as habitat degradation. Turtles become entangled in fishing lines, sometimes swallowing hooks, which lead to drowning or debilitating wounds. Pollution is another factor which can be remedied if people simply pick up their trash after a trip to the coast. Hungry turtles mistake items such as plastic bottle caps and balloons for food, a problem that can be overcome if people practice safe disposal of harmful, toxic items. If a turtle appears to be stranded on the beach, the Oregon Coast Aquarium urges people to leave it where it was found, note its exact location, and turn in a tip to the Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-866-767-6114.

If people want to continue to see these animals in their natural habitats around this beautiful state, then we must act and do all we can to preserve them. It is not too late, but someday it will be.  

If you would like to learn more about Oregon’s threatened animals, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services website. 

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