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12 'Priority' Animal Species That Need Help From Local Scientists

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 4, 2016 8:30PM

The Field Museum is teaming up with several local agencies in a regional conservation alliance called Chicago Wilderness to help ensure future of 12 local "priority" species.

The species included in the list represent critical habitats across the region, including Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. The animals represented in the list may be endangered themselves, or may have a habitat that is quickly disappearing. The hope is, by focusing on a small list of regional species and assigning partners in the alliance to each one, "measurable, on-the-ground change" can be seen in restoring these globally rare habitats and protecting the species who depend on them to survive. Chicago Wilderness represents the coordinated efforts of wildlife specialists, ecologists and social scientists in the restoration efforts, which include revitalizing woodlands and river systems and planting native gardens.

The Field Museum has been selected as a lead partner with the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and US Fish and Wildlife Service for efforts in the conservation of the Monarch Butterfly. Monarchs are a major initiative at the Field Museum and nationally, as populations have decreased by 90 percent in the last two decades. The lowest number of these beautiful butterflies in recorded history came in the winter of 2013/14. The steep decline of the species is attributed in part to things like habitat loss, climate change and stronger pesticides. As lead partners for the conservation of the monarch butterfly population, work to address these problems is being done via the Keller Science Action Center, and will continue in this initiative.

We encourage you to take a look at all 12 of the species on Chicago Wilderness' Priority Species List, and to support the institutions working to preserve them.