The United States is home to a diverse and splendid array of plant and animal species that cannot all be found elsewhere naturally. These species, some of whom symbolize our nation such as the American Bald Eagle, face continuing and growing hardships as their habitat is compromised by urban development. The National Park System was created to preserve the most treasured places in the United States, resulting in the protection of the native plants and animals that live in them as well. Below you will learn about some of the ways national parks have recognized the importance of protecting our country’s endangered species and how they’ve committed themselves to protecting these habitats that are vital to each species' survival.
The endangered Nēnē and Hawaiian Petrel have suffered significantly due to the light pollution from urban areas on the islands. Haleakalā National Park in Hawaii is on the forefront of seabird rescue and education, and has engaged in several outreach programs that protect the Nēnē and Hawaiian Petrel. The National Park Service raises public awareness about the challenges these birds face, what to do if someone spots a disoriented or confused seabird, and what rehabilitation and rescue programs exist. Haleakalā park visitors are discouraged from feeding seabirds or leaving waste that can be confused as food. Many seabirds confuse plastics for jellyfish or fish and ingest it mistakenly.
Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park are two Florida parks that take center-stage in protecting endangered species. Biscayne National Park has gone to great lengths to protect the breeding grounds of sea turtles. Everglades National Park protects several endangered species through activities and research conducted at the South Florida Natural Resources Center. Both parks enforce strict visiting rules and regulations to minimize harm to wildlife, including banning pets from the park and closing trails or park areas as necessary to protect species.
Channel Islands National Parkand Great Smoky Mountains National Park are inhabited by several endangered species like the Channel Islands Fox and Indiana Bat, respectively. The National Park System helps support and maintain many tagging and breeding initiatives, as well as census and invasive species counts. Both parks contribute information to research centers studying the impact of industrial pollution on the ecosystem.
In addition to visiting and supporting national parks and research centers, people can do their part to help protect wildlife by always following park regulations on waste disposal and wildlife interaction. For more information on how to help endangered species living in national parks, visit www.nationalparks.org.
Alanna Sobel is a writer for the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks. In partnership with the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation enriches America’s national parks and programs through private support, preserving our country’s heritage and inspiring generations of national park enthusiasts. To learn about our national parks or to find out how you help, visit www.nationalparks.org