Last week, the nonprofit environmental group Defenders of Wildlife released its second annual list of the nation’s ten most endangered national wildlife refuges. Topping the list this year is Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The only refuge to make the list two years running, ANWR is slated to be opened to oil drilling pending approval of the Congressional budget bill later this month. Defenders of Wildlife has been active in the campaign to prevent resource extraction in ANWR, which it considers “America’s Serengeti” for its abundant wildlife values.
Besides ANWR, the other refuges on this year’s list include Oyster Bay NWR on New York’s Long Island, Brown’s Park NWR in Colorado, Arizona’s Buenos Aires NWR, Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR in California, the Florida Panther NWR in the Sunshine State, Texas’ McFaddin NWR, the Mingo NWR in Missouri, Nevada’s Moapa NWR, and the Pocosin Lakes NWR in North Carolina. Defenders of Wildlife attributes the problems at these refuges to air and water pollution, overdevelopment and government neglect, among other issues.
“If we don’t turn back some of these immediate threats to our wildlife refuge system, America’s most amazing wildlife spectacles will simply not be there for our grandchildren,” said Rodger Schlickeisen, the group’s president. “Whether it’s caribou in the Arctic Refuge, rare songbirds in Mingo Refuge, or jaguars in the Buenos Aires Refuge, where can we protect wildlife, if not in our national wildlife refuges?”