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Conservation of Animals

The classification of animals in terms of conservation status is based on federal and state law as well as on international treaties. The conservation status of many animals, or of smaller populations of a species, are reported on lists which indicate whether they need special management attention for their continued survival. When an animal is included in such a group, it is said to be "listed." Animals may be listed for a number of reasons. Some species may have healthy populations in most of their range yet be Threatened, Rare, or Of Special Concern in one portion of that range. Some species will be listed in one state and not in others for this reason. Other organisms are in danger of extinction wherever they may be found.

In 1973 the State of Georgia passed the Endangered Wildlife Act to protect certain animals, and the Wildflower Preservation Act to protect certain plants. Currently, the Protected Species List includes 111 animals and 103 plants. Many of these species are also are on the federal Endangered Species List.

An animal is considered to be Endangered if it is likely to become extinct due to problems throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Some animals in Georgia have such low population numbers or their habitats have been so reduced or altered that they are unlikely to survive without considerable assistance. Endangered Species are protected by both state and federal laws. It is not legal to have in your possession any part of such an animal, living or dead, without special permission. Some Endangered Species are of such international importance that they are listed in CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

A Threatened species is one that is likely to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of it range within the foreseeable future unless significant changes occur. Animals listed as Threatened may be stressed by over-exploitation or by habitat loss. Some of these species may still appear to be common but generally are experiencing such pressure throughout their range that it is important to offer them the additional protection this status provides.

A Rare species is one which is found only within a restricted geographical area and therefore is at risk if that habitat is threatened. Other Rare species are sparsely distributed over a wide range and may be at risk simply because there are so few of them.

Some species are of Special Concern because they are particularly susceptible to over-exploitation or environmental change. Many of these animals are in areas that are experiencing rapid environmental change because of activities such as urbanization, land clearance, or dams. Animals of Special Concern are usually covered by state laws.