Marija Minic is a Biologist from California

“I am a biologist working in the Mojave Desert of the western United States. In my job, our main species of concern that we are trying to protect is the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), which the Center for Biological Diversity is also working hard to protect. Under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, it is currently listed as “threatened”, and we are all working toward it not getting further listed as “endangered”. With rampant development in southwest urban areas such as Las Vegas and Phoenix, habitat loss for the desert tortoise is rapid and its future remains uncertain. We can all do our part in helping to ensure the survival of this ancient species by slowing down when driving in the desert, checking under vehicles for tortoises when parked for long periods of time and fight against rampant over-development.

As far as the connection between the Endangered Species Act and pesticide regulation, many pesticides actually cause the decline of many endangered species. The best example that comes to mind is the California condor and the spread of DDT, a formerly common insecticide, now banned in North America, but currently still used in many developing countries. DDT thins the eggshells of condor chicks, making them not develop to their full term or making them break before hatching. This severely reduced the number of offspring produced in the next generation and negatively impacted the population of the California condor, that it almost went extinct in the 1980s and early 1990s. The banning of DDT, along with the strong reduction in the use of lead bullets and successful captive breeding programs, led to the successful increase in the condor population by the late 1990s. With strong regulation on the use of toxic pesticides, more and more endangered species will make “comebacks”, much like the California condor. So it can only be a good thing for our ecology and environment, as well as being less poisonous for ourselves.”