Press Release

Press Release  Healey-Driscoll Administration Celebrates Endangered Species Day

For immediate release:
  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration Celebrates Endangered Species Day

Media Contact, MassWildlife

EEA Undersecretary Cooper, DFG Commissioner O’Shea, MassWildlife staff, and Bristol Agricultural High School students and staff gather while banding two bald eagle chicks.

DightonState environment, wildlife, and legislative officials visited Bristol County Agricultural High School yesterday to bring awareness to endangered species conservation in Massachusetts, highlight the conservation success of two rare species in the Commonwealth, and celebrate National Endangered Species Day and the 50th anniversary of the passage of the federal Endangered Species Act. 

“The Healey-Driscoll Administration has made unprecedented investments in tackling the climate crisis and building resiliency,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “These efforts, along with a focus on landscape-scale conservation measures and increased habitat protection, will support restoration of natural resources and increased biodiversity that is critically important to wildlife and the wellbeing of our communities.”    

“Massachusetts has made substantial progress in protecting ecologically significant lands and waters and restoring vulnerable habitats and wildlife populations,” said Undersecretary of Environment Stephanie Cooper. “We must redouble our efforts, working with schools like Bristol-Aggie, land trusts, state agencies, municipalities, conservation organizations, and others to conserve our state’s native biodiversity as a critical part of meeting our climate change challenges.”

At Bristol Aggie, school officials and students led a tour of the facility where students are engaged in a turtle conservation project through a conservation technique called headstarting. Headstarting is a process of raising turtles in captivity to give them an advantage to surviving into adulthood.  Officials from the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) weighed and pit-tagged the endangered northern red-bellied cooters that students cared for to prepare them for release into the wild. In addition to cooters, students are also headstarting blanding’s turtles, wood turtles, and box turtles, in a proactive effort to help keep these species off the federal Endangered Species Act list.   

“The Commonwealth has made great strides in protecting and restoring wildlife habitats in Massachusetts, but despite our best efforts we have more than 430 species on our state endangered species list, and the number continues to grow. Our biodiversity is in crisis at the global, national, and state scale,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Tom O’Shea. “As the new Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, I will be establishing bold biodiversity goals for Massachusetts.”  

In addition to the tour of lab facilities at Bristol-Aggie, MassWildlife wildlife biologists explained the vulnerabilities of turtles in Massachusetts, where six of the ten native terrestrial and aquatic species are listed on the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). They also explained the success of MassWildlife’s headstart program for northern red-bellied cooters, started in 1984. When it began, the estimated population of these turtles in Massachusetts was only 300. Now the population is over 1,000 adults. This is one of the longest and most intensive freshwater turtle headstart programs in existence.    

Later, officials and students watched as MassWildlife personnel gave a brief overview about bald eagle conservation before banding bald eagle chicks from a pair of adults that have a nest on Bristol-Aggie property. Bald eagles represent a conservation success story in Massachusetts and the United States. MassWildlife and partners began restoring bald eagles to Massachusetts in the 1980s, and their numbers have improved since. Bald eagles were delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act in 2007 because their populations have recovered nationally. The bald eagle is still listed as a species of special concern under the MESA.    

May 19, 2023, is National Endangered Species Day. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Now in its 50th year, the ESA has been a powerful tool, helping to conserve hundreds of plants and animals through the work of partners including federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations, schools, and individuals. MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program is responsible for conserving rare species and their habitats throughout Massachusetts. Learn how you can help the hundreds of plants and animals that are considered rare in Massachusetts and celebrate 50 years of the federal Endangered Species Act by visiting the MassWildlife website.  


Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration Celebrates Endangered Species Day

  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs 

    EEA seeks to protect, preserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s environmental resources while ensuring a clean energy future for the state’s residents. Through the stewardship of open space, protection of environmental resources, and enhancement of clean energy, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs works tirelessly to make Massachusetts a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 

    MassWildlife is responsible for the conservation of freshwater fish and wildlife in the Commonwealth, including endangered plants and animals. MassWildlife restores, protects, and manages land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.
  • Image credits:  Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

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