About 30% of the 200 listed endangered animal and 300 plant species listed endangered in the United States can be found in the Midwest. Local endangered species like the Indiana Bat and the Fanshell Mussel are imperiled by anthropogenic (human) effects such as pesticide use, habitat destruction, and agricultural/land and energy development. Environmental factors can also play a role; in the case of the Indiana Bat the rise of white nose syndrome, a fatal fungal disease, has been responsible for the deaths of over 5 million bats since its appearance in 2007. Our work aims to minimize damage to endangered species and ecosystems.
Legal background: The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is the most comprehensive effort to date by the federal government to protect endangered species from the consequences of human and economic growth. The US Supreme Court states that its aim is to “halt and reverse the trend towards species extinction, whatever the cost.” From 1976-2012, 28 species have been delisted (meaning they are no longer classified as “endangered”), and 25 others have had their status improved from “endangered” to merely “threatened.” The legal protections afforded by the ESA have allowed us to advocate on behalf of numerous endangered species, including the Indiana Bat, several migratory birds, and the Whooping Crane. Two related pieces of legislation — the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act — have also been helpful in this regard.