California’s Top 10 Endangered Species

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What are endangered species? Why should we care about them? These are the questions that this article will cover and raise awareness about these animals.

Endangered species are types of species’ that have a low number of the animal left alive on the planet. I believe that all animals should be treated with the same respect as humans. I can give you an idea of why we actually need these animals, like how we need the gray wolf so the deer or elk populations don’t overpopulate and eat a lot of the plants in California. This exact thing happened in yellowstone one time where the wolf population got really low and the deer or elk populations sky-rocketed and ate a lot of the plants in yellowstone, but when the wolf populations went up, everything went back to normal.

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10. The Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)

The Gray Wolf is last because its numbers are healthy outside California. Extinct in California until 2011, the Gray Wolf has made a re-entrance into california. There are 2 lively packs in Northern California. These wolves would do just fine in the northern mountains with a lot of food, however the tasmanian tiger ranchers will kill them for eating livestock. There is a law protecting the wolves but, there is a loophole ; a hunter can claim that they didn’t know they were shooting at a wolf therefore avoiding punishment. With the wolf population under a dozen, and that the whereabouts of the 7 member shasta pack unknown, the Gray Wolf is not safe.

9. Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor)

The tricolored blackbird is a far relative to the red-winged blackbird. The bird lives only in California. The birds gather in huge groups during early spring on farm land. This is the main reason their numbers decimate. That means that a couple hours’ work with a combine might kill 50 or 60 thousand of the birds at once. Those 145,000 tricoloreds was a 44 percent decline from the species’ numbers in 2011, which were themselves down by more than a third from 2008.

8. California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)

You might know this species as a high flying success story. But, the California Condor is not out of the woods yet. The California Condor has 400 specimens alive, half in the wild and half in captivity. Four-hundred birds alive is pretty good when there was 27 left in the wild in 1987. These birds are still in danger from human-caused hazards including flying in to telephone wires. the most pervasive threat, which afflicts pretty much all wild condors, is poisoning from lead ammo used by hunters. The birds preferentially ingest lead shot and bullet fragments, possibly due to behavioral habits that evolved as a way to get the birds to eat calcium-rich bone fragments. The lead stays in the condors’ stomachs, leaching into their exceptionally strong stomach acids, and causing a number of serious and often fatal illnesses. Luckily most hunters don’t use lead and a statewide ban will go into place in 2019.

7. Lange’s metalmark butterfly (Apodemia mormo langeia)

This butterfly lives in the highly polluted area of Antioch. But is home to a few endangered species including Lange’s metalmark butterfly. The butterfly relies on one plant- the antioch dunes buckwheat, which lives in the antioch dunes, a small patch of sandy hills along the south shore of the San Joaquin River. These dunes were mined out for their sand to make bricks in the early 1900s. this butterfly’s numbers have gotten better but, they are still classified as endangered.

6. Kings gold (Tropidocarpum californicum)

This yellow powdered plant suffers terribly from the droughts and habitat loss. Their habitat consists of alkaline soils along the south shore of what was once Tulare Lake. There is one patch near interstate 5 west of Wasco. This patch only has 50 individual plants.

5. Delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus)

The delta smelt lives in the brackish waters of the river up by san francisco. People started pumping a lot of freshwater out of the bay which devastated the brackish waters where these small fish lived. People also hauled large numbers to San Francisco to sell at the markets. They also get chewed up in pumps. They can get eaten by larger invasive fish, and battle over food with invasive clams for zooplankton. It is possible the smelt has declined past the point of recovery. There is probably only a few dozen in the whole river.

4. Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew

Do not call this shrew a rodent. Mice, rats, and squirrels are more closely related to us then to the Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew. Fewer than 3 dozen still remain alive today. The numbers have been the same since 1990. The shrew’s habitat has almost entirely been destroyed. Now, Tulare Lake exists only during exceptionally wet years. The lake only occupies 10% of what it used to.

3. Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

This type of salmon used to go up the sacramento river to it tributaries the pit and McCloud rivers breed in an event called the winter-run of chinook before european settlers came in. this changed when the Shasta Dam went into place blocking spawn access for the chinook and other salmon. The winter-run of Chinook lost more than 95% of historic spawning habitat. To make things worse the last free-flowing spot, battle creek, was turned into a hydroelectric plant. All most all the salmon died out for the loss of habitat. The remaining few severely rely on the cold water deliberately released from the shasta and Keswick dams. A little shift in the dams policy can wipe the Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon of the face of the planet.

2. Amargosa vole (Microtus californicus scirpensis)

This critter made the news in 2015 when a large group captive-bred voles were being taken to their natural habitat … and died on the way there. The scientist figured it was from a combination of dehydration and stress. So it is a bit ironic they live in one of the most stressful, dehydrated places in California, the Amargosa River which flows through the mojave desert. The Amargosa vole subsists on a diet consisting almost entirely of three-square bulrush, a very heat tolerant wetland plant that grows around springs in the vicinity of the Death Valley community of Tecopa. There are only a handful of them left in the wild.

1. Desert slender salamander (Batrachoseps aridus)

This species could actually be extinct, no one has recorded on in 21 years. They are so vulnerable if there skin dries out they die. Discovered in 1960, the salamanders have only ever been found in Guadalupe Canyon and Hidden Palms Canyon near Palm Desert. There hasn’t been a sighting since 1996.

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