In Iowa, destruction of habitat is the leading cause of decreasing in animal populations. Our landscape has gone through a great deal of change. Farm fields, towns, and roads have taken over a land once covered by prairies, wetlands, and woodlands. Many plants and animal have been extirpated or no longer live here because of the drastic changes that have taken place in the past 150 years.
A question often asked is, “Why should we be concerned about these plants and animals?” Each plant and animal species is unique because it may represent solutions to biological problems and provides genetic diversity. Individual species of plants and animals also contribute to the maintenance of other species in a community. We need to remember that all things are connected.
The Endangered Species Act, passed in 1973 by the U.S. Congress, provides for the protection of plants and animals that are endangered or threatened with extinction.
Polk Co. Conservation Board (PCCB) parks and wildlife areas are home to several rare species. The plains pocket mouse, a state endangered species, was recently discovered at Sandhill Prairie. In 1997, PCCB purchased 10 river otters, a state threatened species at the time, from Louisiana and released them at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt in hopes to repopulate the Skunk River. River otters are now doing very well across Iowa and have been removed from the state's threatened and endangered species list. The state threatened, ornate box turtle, has also been introduced in hopes of returning the turtle to central Iowa.
What we need to remember is that our best hope for saving endangered species lies in habitat protection, continued research, and learning to respect and appreciate the natural world.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources - Information about Iowa's threatened and endangered species