As a nation, we must stop doing too little too late when it comes to disappearing wildlife populations and climate change.

In January, the last woodland caribou in Idaho and the 48 states was captured and moved north to Canada. Efforts to protect caribou and their habitat failed miserably.

Ironically, in response to a court order this month, the federal government in the U.S. is now putting new protections in place for caribou in the hope that the caribou population will again grow large enough to return to the states.

While hope should spring eternal, it’s too little, too late. The last caribou is the poster child for the destruction that will continue to occur if humans continue to stall and delay necessary changes to protect wildlife populations.

In Idaho in the last 50 years, inland runs of anadromous wild salmon and steelhead have shrunk from a flood to a trickle while legal and political battles ensued.

Fish ladders, which get adults around the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers as they travel upstream to spawn, and domestic hatcheries, which have tried to restore populations by producing millions of baby fish, haven’t saved them.

Now, the salmon are taking the Pacific Ocean’s orcas, also called killer whales, with them to their doom. Many scientists now believe that the orcas are starving to death and failing to reproduce because of the lack of wild salmon.

Caribou, salmon and orcas aren’t the only disappearing species. Former presidential candidate and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee put the health of the natural world at the top of his platform. Like him, Americans should insist on protections before more species become the ghosts of memory and before we human animals are forced to follow them.

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