These agile hunters once roamed through the southern and central U.S. but lost their habitat and were killed off in the east in the 1700s. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service systematically hunted them down in the 20th century, but the big cat reappears sporadically due to migration from Mexico. In March 2009, the Arizona Game and Fish Department euthanized the last known U.S. jaguar named Macho B.
The great white polar bear is the youngest and largest of the worlds bear species. Although a mighty hunter and fierce defender of its young, the polar bear is among the world’s most vulnerable animals. Polar bears could be extinct by 2050 if greenhouse gas-fueled global warming keeps melting their Arctic sea-ice habitat.
The American pika is a small, herbivorous and conspicuously cute mammal related to rabbits and hares. The pika is adapted to the cold climate in high-elevation boulder fields and alpine meadows in the mountains of the American west. The very adaptations that have allowed this species to survive however, make pikas extra sensitive to the changes wrought by global warming.
The North Pacific right whale is an enormous, robust, baleen whale species that is now extremely rare and endangered. After commercial whaling ceased on these whales in the 1930s, the right whales have not made any significant recovery. Once abundant, the North Pacific right whale is now the most endangered whale in the world.
The San Francisco Bay-Delta and Sacramento-San Joaquin river system are home to a rare, enormous species of living fossil called the green sturgeon. The ancient fish has survived unchanged for almost 200 million years, but is now at the brink of extinction from over harvesting and rapid habitat change.
The Hawaiian monk seal is an earless seal that is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Threats like limited food availability, entanglement in fishing gear and disease all add to the dramatic population decline. The ever-worsening effects of global warming, which interferes with delicate marine ecosystems and causes the sea-level to rise, also endangers seal pupping beaches. It should be no surprise that the Hawaiian monk seal’s population is expected to plunge to less than 1,000 animals in the next few years.
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