Extension Special Series No. 27A
"Rare" end "unusual" plants and animals have always fascinated people. Humans usually assign high values to things that are rare as opposed to things that are common. Consider. for example, the present values we assign to gold end diamonds in relation to the value we give to gravel. For the same reasons rare animals and plants have been sought after by humans. Early explorers often returned to their native lands with live or dead specimens of exotic animals. Not many years ago women in the eastern United States sought to adorn their clothing with the unusual feathers of plumed birds, such as egrets and herons, that lived in the Gulf Coast states. Even today people pay large sums of money to obtain items made from rare plants and animals, such as scrimshaw, leopard skin coats, and exotic cactuses. In modern-day society. we have provided legal protection to items that are rare and in demand by humans. Without this legal protection these rare items may become completely depleted, or in the case of living organisms, extinct. Once a rare item is totally depleted. or extinct. all present and future economic values are gone, forever. With renewable items. such as plants and animals. proper protection and management will allow the organism to remain in existence and to provide economic and other values into the future. In the 1960's and 1970's the United States government began to recognize the values of rare plants and animals to society. This has resulted in a series of laws to protect rare species that we have legally defined as "endangered" or "threatened." The Endangered Species Act of 1973 has been the most important legislation protecting rare plants and animals thus far.
South Dakota State University
Wentz, Alan W. and Service, Cooperative Extension, "Endangered and Threatened Species in South Dakota" (1979). SDSU Extension Special Series. 119.