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...Wetlands and Wildlife in Danger!

Some species of plants and animals are rare. This means they're found in just a few places. There aren't very many of them. These species may have always been rare. Or, they may have once been common, but they are disappearing. Why? People are usually part of the reason. Human activities have changed or destroyed many wild places. Today, space for wildlife is running out. Food and clean water may be harder to find. Plants and animals must live together in ways they never did before. Some of them will not survive without protection.

In the United States, a law called the Endangered Species Act protects rare species. Under the Act, plants and animals are listed as “endangered” or “threatened.” Endangered species have a good chance of becoming extinct if they aren't protected. That means they will disappear from the

United States or even from Earth forever. Threatened species will likely become endangered if they aren't protected.

Right now, about 1,200 kinds of plants and animals are listed as endangered or threatened in the United States. The government must decide how to help each one. This mainly involves protecting each species' habitat. It also means protecting the plants and animals themselves. The goal of the Endangered Species Act is to help rare plants and animals become common again. Then, they won't need special protection.

Why care about rare species? Well, they might become important for food, medicine or other uses. All life on Earth helps to keep it healthy. Finally, we should save plants and animals for others to enjoy in the future.

The Wetland Connection

The graph below lists most major groups of living things covered by the Endangered Species Act. The bars show what percentage of species in each group depends on wetlands. Why are so many rare plants and animals connected to wetlands?



Percentage of endangered and threatened species that depend on wetlands

Many of these species only grow or live in wetlands. Many animals visit wetlands to lay eggs or have their young. The young animals often live there at least until they are adults. Wetlands are also important spots for visiting animals to feed and drink.

North America has lost about half of its original wetlands. It's not surprising that wetland plants and animals are less common too. Luckily, laws for these species can protect wetland homes.