In the late 1960s, you could spot one if you crossed your fingers for luck and traveled deep into a swamp. By 1985, they were turning up in swimming pools. The American alligator is one remarkable success story of the American Endangered Species Act, but there are many more.
The Endangered Species Act was passed to protect animals whose populations were dangerously low. It created a list of animals that needed to be protected. The act helped stop or regulate hunting of these animals. It also protected their environments. It has probably saved more than 100 types of animals so far. The American alligator is one. The bald eagle, the symbol of the United States, is another.
The number of bald eagles dwindled to only 417 nesting pairs in 1963 because humans were hunting them and taking over places they live. The biggest problem, however, was a pesticide called DDT, which affected bald eagles' eggs. DDT was banned in 1973, and bald eagle populations grew steadily after that. Not only are bald eagles a symbol of America, but they are now also "a symbol of environmental stewardship," says Michael Daulton of the Audubon Society.
The Endangered Species Act has saved wolves, fish, insects, and types of almost every creature that walks, flies, or slithers across North America. The population of the Virginia big-eared bat grew by nearly 10 times in the 20 years since it was listed as endangered—another great success. Treaties like CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) try to do the same. With proper attention and enforcement, animals like the pangolin and Formosan black bears can become environmental success stories too.
人們獵殺並剝奪白頭鷹棲息地的行為使得其數量銳減，到1963 年只剩417 對而已。然而，最大的問題是稱為DDT 的殺蟲劑，它會使白頭鷹的蛋殼變薄。DDT 在1973 年被禁用，而白頭鷹的數量之後便穩定成長。奧杜邦學會的邁可• 達頓表示，白頭鷹現在不只是美國的象徵，也是「環境管理的象徵」。
「瀕臨滅絕物種法案」已拯救了狼、魚、昆蟲，及在北美洲走動、飛翔，或滑行的各種生物。維吉尼亞的大耳蝙蝠被列為瀕臨絕種後，其數量在20 年間成長了近10 倍，這又是另一個成功故事。像CITES（全名「瀕臨絕種野生動植物國際貿易公約」）的組織也試著在做同樣的事。只要給予適當的關切並確實執行，像穿山甲及台灣黑熊這樣的動物，也能變為成功的環保故事。