Conservationists meet to save endangered species, habitat - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Conservationists meet to save endangered species, habitat

VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) -

Protecting endangered species and the habitat in which they live is key to a healthy and functioning environment. Monday in Vancleave, several conservation agencies from across the state focused their efforts to do just that.

Conservationists passed around Mississippi's most endangered state creatures for show and tell Monday. First up was the Gopher Tortoise. 

"A lot of other species depend on this animal being in the landscape," a conservationist said. 

Next was the Black Pine Snake and then the endangered Gopher Frogs. Because the frogs are so rare at the site, there was only a picture to pass around to the folks here. 

"There are about a dozen and that fluctuates depending on whether there is a rainy season," Nature Conservancy's executive director Jim Murrian said. 

Nature Conservancy's Executive Director Jim Murrian said these rare species can be found at a 294-acre Longleaf Pine site called Mike's Pond in Vancleave. He said land like this seems to be dwindling across the country. 

"There is less than three million acres of this habitat left. If this habitat continues to decline, then the plant and animal species that use this will disappear too." 

Murrian said his agency, along with Natural Resources Conversation Service, have partnered to provide funding and help save, restore and manage the Longleaf Pine System.

"About 50,000 a year for five years." 

But this group said more funding and support from local and state leaders in needed. 

"The federal government has so many different types of priorities across the country, so I think it is important for local partners to work through the media to just emphases the critical nature and the important nature of this." 

South Mississippians can also do their part by being good stewards of the natural resources. Conservationists said with everyone pitching in to help these animals, their future is a lot more secure. 

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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