Wildlife service to observe Endangered Species Day today

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and several conservation organizations will observe Endangered Species Day on Friday to recognize the conservation programs under way nationwide aimed at protecting America's threatened and endangered species.

The Endangered Species Act has helped to prevent the extinction of hundreds of species. Co-administered by the wildlife service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the purpose of the law is to conserve imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.

"The Endangered Species Act is the nation's premier law protecting biodiversity today," said the wildlife service's acting director, Rowan Gould. "The bald eagle, American alligator and gray wolf are all species which once found themselves on the list, facing the brink of extinction, but have successfully rebounded."

Congress first passed the Endangered Species Act in 1966 and expanded it three years later to provide worldwide protections to imperiled species through prohibitions on their export and sale in the U.S.

Utah has 16 animals and 24 plants that are listed as threatened or endangered. Utah species under review for being added to federal listing include the Gila monster in Washington County and the Northern leopard frog, which is found throughout Utah.

For more information on the Endangered Species Act, go to www.fws.gov/endangered/.

— Amy Joi O'Donoghue