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. drap

    I recall fat bast@rd in one of the Austin Powers movies squirming because he had a turtle head poking out..sounds like a loggerhead..cant be that cute... .

    August 15, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mmmmm

    endangered species?!?!?!!!!!!!! Y'all are lucky I don't live near that turtle eggs laying beach. I would get mah Paula Dean cooking ware skillet, mah mixing bowls and spatula to make me a turtle omelet. You human baby killers! Y'all animal lovin' priorities are misaligned!

    August 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freshies

      You would go and kill endangered animals out of spite because people abort babies? Hahaha, you are one retarded redneck.

      August 16, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. TixWoo

    that makes a lot of sesne when you think about it.

    http://www.real-privacy.au.tc

    August 15, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bambi meets Godzilla

    NO... .!

    August 15, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Morris the Cat

    poop happens... .

    August 16, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. raven

    I wonder what would happen if Angler Fish were endangered. Those things are hideous!

    August 16, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. fernace

    I personally am partial to wolves, but know they are not popular because they eat livestock! Much of the problem, as we already know is the human insistence on encroaching on animal habitat areas! If you know an area is favored by wolves, who normally hunt & eat other wild species, don't insist on setting up a ranch in that location! Simple logic, but humans stubborness will never be on an Endangered list!!

    August 16, 2011 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  8. fernace

    @ raven, hey girl, I Looove Angler Fish! They're so hideous they're cute, in a really scary way! Lol!

    August 16, 2011 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. Pink Panther

    Good grief raven,are you a fan of Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann? You must be, with such tea party lingo. Your right wing mumbo-jumbo is a language that I cannot condone.

    August 16, 2011 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mmmmm

    Good post Pink Panther,thank you. You said it all.

    August 16, 2011 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. fernace

    I spoke to banasy earlier and she eluded to the fact that these so called "cute animals" are used by the right-wing thugs in Washington to influence their own agenda. banasy also feels that the right-wing thugs in Washington have to go. She said that it's as simple as that. I happen to agree with her.

    August 16, 2011 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  12. Joey (JIF)

    banasy is very upset that so many Tea Partiers are in Washington. She thinks they want this illegal war to continue so that they can fill their pockets. I agree with her. Those thugs in Washington must go!

    August 16, 2011 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  13. raven

    Where you been Joey. Long time no see?

    August 16, 2011 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joey

    Well raven,I got tired of traditional music. I now play a banjo and play Hill Billy music. It is a change that I needed in this point in my life. I feel a sense of freedom now like never before.

    August 16, 2011 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
  15. Pink Panther

    How nice Joey. I play the flute. I can make my pet cobra snake dance to it. I perform part-time at children's hospitals and present muppet shows too.

    August 16, 2011 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
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