When we think of endangered species, certain animals come to mind: storybook favorites like wolves and elephants, or flashy rainforest birds. You probably
don’t think of the Florida grasshopper sparrow, a small brown and yellow songbird, singing from the safety of tall grass. But there are hundreds of endangered species like them and though they might not command the attention that others do, they are no less important.
The population of the Florida grasshopper sparrow has dropped 80 percent over the past ten years, and though experts aren’t sure why, it’s likely that the bird’s decline is related to human activity.
In fact, there are over 50 species listed as threatened or endangered in the state of Florida, but only a few are well known. (Ever heard of the Choctawhatchee beach mouse, or the sand skink?) However, each species is a vital part of their ecosystem, and each deserves the attention and conservation effort that is needed for their recovery.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t have the capacity to fund recovery for all of them at once, so research and early action is the key to keeping ecosystems stable and avoiding the high cost of preventing species extinction. The Florida grasshopper sparrow may be small and secretive, but it’s just as important to protect as the biggest of bison.
Click here to listen and learn more about Florida endangered species, with commentary from Laurie MacDonald, Florida Director of Defenders of Wildlife!