Usually, it’s the Easter bunny that brings gifts in the form
of Easter eggs in celebration of the season. But this year, WildEarth Guardians
is giving back by protecting symbols of spring: bunnies, chicks and eggs.
WildEarth Guardians has worked for years to help a suite of
Easter animals hop or flutter towards federal protection. Our efforts
culminated in an important settlement agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service last May that will advance protections for over 800 species.
Among them is an endangered bunny – the New England
cottontail. Not to be confused
with the more common eastern cottontail, this rare rabbit has lost 75 percent
of its range. As a candidate species, it was deemed “warranted” for listing,
but still lacked protection under the Endangered Species Act, and its
conservation was stalled. Under
our agreement, the Service must make a listing decision for the cottontail by
2016. Learn more about endangered
A whole array of chicks and eggs (and their parents) will also
move closer to protection: the Mono Basin sage-grouse, Gunnison sage-grouse,
greater sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chicken, and Sprague’s pipit. As candidates
for listing under the ESA, they were acknowledged to be imperiled, but could
not access the Easter basket of legal protections provided by the Act. Now,
listing decisions for all of these species are due by 2016 or sooner.
This spring is a little brighter for imperiled species. Some
good news in this season of hope and renewal.