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INTRODUCTION OF EXOTIC ANIMALS

By Madi Palmer

HOW ARE EXOTIC ANIMALS AFFECTING ENDANGERED SPECIES?


Native species are animals that are only found in specific areas of the world, and have ordinarily been a part of that particular environment for a long time. They are well adapted to their local environment and are used to living with other native species within the same habitat. Exotic species are intruders in their habitat and ruin these bonds. These species are introduced into new environments by humans, either intentionally or accidentally. These trespassers are viewed by the native species as foreign and/or dangerous. They may cause no obvious problems and might even eventually become a natural element of the habitat. However, exotic species may also disturb balances and may produce many unintended yet harmful consequences. The worst of these consequences is when introduced exotic species put native species in harm by preying on them. Introduced insects, rats, pigs, cats, and other foreign species have actually caused the endangerment and extinction of hundreds of species during the past five centuries. Exotic species are certainly a factor leading to endangerment.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
Fragile ecosystems around the world are disturbed as people invade the natural environment to capture wild animals, threatening the species' population and overall survival, all because of the exploitative pet trade. Once the exotic animals arrive in their new country, many people who grow tired of their exotic pets release them to the wild, mistakenly thinking that releasing them is a humane option. The freed animals will then die slowly and painfully in the new inhospitable environment, or equally devastating, thrive, multiple and create a new problem by upsetting the local ecosystem.
The red-eared slider turtle is a perfect example of an exotic species that thrives in our local ponds an inexpensive and popular exotic pet that quickly looses its novelty and even become aggressive. Now released into the environment en masse, their populations are out of control in many areas as they disrupt the natural balance of the aquatic ecosystem, and damage native turtle and amphibian populations. Environmental Educators emphasize that the exotic pet trade implies a misleading message about wild animals. By treating animals as commodities we teach children that animals can be removed from their natural, biological communities. Yet we must strive to nurture an attitude of respect for all wild creatures and their natural habitats and by insisting that animals be left in the wild, the demand for exotic pets will decrease significantly.

FACTS ABOUT ENDANGERED SPECIES


More than 1005000 species are still alive today. However, recent estimates state that at least 20 times that many species inhabit the planet. In the United States, 735 species of plants and 496 species of animals are listed as threatened or endangered. 266 of these listed species have recovery plans currently under development. There are more than 1,000 animal species endangered worldwide.

There are more than 3,500 protected areas in existence worldwide. These areas include parks, wildlife refuges and other reserves. They cover a total of nearly 2 million square miles (5 million square km), or 3% of our total land area.
Aquatic species, which are often overlooked, are facing serious trouble. One third of the United States fish species, two-thirds of its crayfish species, and almost three-quarters of its mussel species are in trouble.

ENDANGERED SPECIES TERMS


VULNERABLE SPECIES - A species particularly at risk because of low or declining numbers or small range, but not a threatened species. THREATENED SPECIES a species whose population is not yet low enough to be in immediate danger of extinction, but who certainly faces serious problems. If the problems affecting these species arent resolved, it is probable that the species will become endangered. The eastern indigo snake and the red kangaroo are examples of threatened species. ENDANGERED SPECIES a specie, plant or animal, that is in immediate danger of becoming extinct. Its numbers are usually low, and it needs protection in order to survive. The Siberian tiger, the southern sea otter, the snow leopard, the green pitcher plant, and thousands of other plants and animals are endangered worldwide. EXTINCT SPECIES an extinct species is one that is no longer living. The passenger pigeon, the dodo, and the Stegosaurus are examples of extinct species. These animals no longer exist on the earth.