Endangered Species Act has been protecting Arizona animals, plants for 50 years

Dec 28, 2023, 4:35 AM

head of the narrow-headed garter snake...

The narrow-headed garter snake is one of the Arizona animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. (Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary Photo)

(Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary Photo)

PHOENIX – With a diverse environment ranging from deserts to mountains, Arizona is home to a wide range of wildlife.

So, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Endangered Species Act has made a significant impact on Arizona plants and animals since the landmark law was enacted 50 years ago Thursday.

“We have a lot of really interesting animals that live in our state that really are found nowhere else in the United States, and additionally, with that, we do have a lot of habitats that are somewhat imperiled,” Michael Ring, videographer for the Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary, told KTAR News 92.3 FM recently.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service currently classifies about 70 species of Arizona animals and plants as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, which was signed by President Richard Nixon on Dec. 28, 1973.

Per the law, endangered means a species is in danger of extinction, while threatened is used for species likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.

What Arizona animals are benefiting from the Endangered Species Act?

Ring cited the Mount Graham red squirrel, narrow-headed garter snake, black-footed ferret and Mexican gray wolf among the Endangered Species Act’s Arizona success stories.

He said the state has a strong network of organizations working to protect wildlife, including the Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary and Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in the Phoenix area.

“I’m very optimistic about the future of Arizona and conservation as far as our native wildlife species. … I think that culturally, our state is really, really geared toward conservation,” he said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Shira Tanzer contributed to this report.

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Endangered Species Act has been protecting Arizona animals, plants for 50 years