Do cute animals get better protection?
August 15th, 2011
10:52 PM ET

Do cute animals get better protection?

Worms have been denied, wolves could be cut out, but some sea turtles could be added to the U.S. Endangered Species List.

A push to add the loggerhead sea turtle is bolstered by several studies that say they could be extinct in the middle of the century. Besides natural predators, boat strikes, fishing and dredging, baby loggerheads have to contend with humans who see them and illegally take them home, thinking they can take care of them. The Tybee Island Marine Science Center in Georgia says it hears about this happening often.

“(People take them) because they’re so cute," said Lauren Broome, a marine biologist at the center. "When they’re hatched, they’re about … 2 inches."

But do cuter animals like the loggerhead have an easier time getting on the endangered list than creepier or more menacing creatures?

Patrick Gallagher, director of the Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program, says cute or charismatic animals can have an easier time, politically, getting protections from federal officials.

“Decision makers feel more protected when they have a charismatic animal at issue as opposed to something more obscure,” Gallagher said. “But the fact is science should drive all the decisions.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is one of the federal administrators of the Endangered Species Program. The FWS is charged with ensuring proper development in areas where endangered animals live, as well as habitat restoration. FWS has consistently stated the list is maintained in accordance with scientific findings.

The program has had great success in the past with certain animals, including bald eagles, which were taken off the list in 2007 after eagle populations increased. Yet some environmentalists say other animals, like wolves in the Colorado region, are removed because of political pressures from developers, farmers and other interest groups.

“The pressure to remove something from the list comes from a variety of sources, including political pressure brought by the opponents,” Gallagher said.

Many environmentalists say they're concerned that key animals and plants are not protected simply because they aren’t popular. Other environmentalists say that the U.S. government should move quickly to come to a determination for some 750 species - many of them, like the wolverine, not exactly known for being cute and cuddly.

Click the audio player to hear the rest of the story from CNN Radio's John Sepulvado:

You can also listen to the CNN Radio Reports podcast on itunes or subscribe to the podcast here.

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Filed under: Animals • Nature • Politics • Turtles
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. TwM

    Eat them all. Properly seasoned all these animals would taste delicious. No I am not being sarcastic. Food is food.

    August 16, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      You are an idiot.

      August 16, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • sideofbacon

      turtle stew IS rather tasty

      August 16, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • jerseychi

      Although I agree with you that eating one animal is no different than eating another it is important to realize that ecological balances must be maintained. Even the most insignificant insect going extinct could impact out lives in tremendous ways.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • GeorgeI

      Post a photo of yourself... I bet you are an obese slob.

      August 17, 2011 at 3:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Madkat

      “But the fact is science should drive all the decisions.”
      Unfortunately its actually religion that drives all the decisions. And that is a very sad thing.
      Just ask our free goverment.

      August 18, 2011 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
    • animallover

      Georgel, your post was frikkin hilarious! I couldn't stop laughing!!

      August 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gary D.

    Of course they do! Do you see anyone offering to protect the endangered sea slug?

    August 16, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jim Weix

    Of course cute animals get more protection. That is because so many so called animal rights people are just whackjobs.
    They protect the "cute" feral cat, even though it wipes out song bird populations. In Wisconsin, they made the mourning dove the "State Bird of Peace", even though the white rock dove is the so called symbol of peace.
    Science, not whackjobs, should manage these issues.

    August 16, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Madkat

      Is the white rock even alive anymore?.. Im mean c'mon man get with the times.

      August 18, 2011 at 5:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. Omar

    Does John Sepulvado have nothing better to write about?

    August 16, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dawn

    You all must be from a redneck state

    August 16, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. Koala Bears

    ...are so cuddly, China leases them to American zoos to draw crowds. The zoo also agrees to pay 250K per year for koala food/medical. Sea-World does it with cuddly killer whales. Brothel's with cuddly old hags. Churches with an Jesus strictly built for the cuddle. Elephant with a cuddly donkey head.

    August 16, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • wavejump1100

      i think you mean panda bears. koala bears are from australia

      August 17, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Madkat

      I think Koala bears might have had a point.. If he/she was sober. No really, I think they were getting somewhere..

      August 18, 2011 at 5:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. Buddy Jesus

    Let's cuddle no matter what.

    August 16, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. Little Suzie

    Mommy, mommy! Lookit how that tiny little donkey head bobbles every time his big-fat elephant bumps into something.

    August 16, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. CBear

    Denis Leary figured this out in 1992.
    "No Cure for Cancer" (1992)

    Denis Leary: My fluffy little dog.. He's so cute- There's the problem. We only want to save the cute animals, don't we? Yeah. Why don't we just have animal auditions. Line 'em up one by one and interview them individually.

    Denis: What are you?
    Otter: I'm an otter.
    Denis: And what do you do?
    Otter: I swim around on my back and do cute little human things with my hands.
    Denis: You're free to go. And what are you?
    Cow: I'm a cow.
    Denis: Get in the @$#%** truck, ok pal!
    Cow: But I'm an animal.
    Denis: You're a baseball glove! Get on that truck!
    Cow: I'm an animal, I have rights!

    August 16, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Madkat

      Thats great! as Dennis Leary was.. But do you have an opinion of your own?

      Just sayin...

      August 18, 2011 at 5:45 am | Report abuse |
  10. Lila

    Predators like the wolves have the greedy special interests groups like ranchers and farmers who are pouring millions into killing them. Then these same communities who fall for the special interests whine they are over run by prey animals and they are killing people in car collisions. It's an uphill battle to fight to protect species. Plants have it the worst, they aren't cute at all but they have a vital place in our ecosystem.

    August 16, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rebecca

    Hasn't anyone heard of dolphins being extinct? No because they're too cute for extinction.

    August 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. um-duh

    if a turtle looses it's shell is it necked or homeless?

    August 16, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mejazzbo

    Just like cute human do.

    August 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Wallace J. Nichols

    Not long ago sea turtles weren't considered particularly charismatic or cute and certainly weren't well protected.

    It took some charismatic/cute mammals with names like Archie, Sally, Jack, Neca, Alberto, Karen, Colin, Marydele, Kartik, change that!

    August 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
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