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Before a highway is widened here, botanists are dispatched to instruct workers on how to safeguard the threatened western prairie fringed orchid. On rare occasions roads have been diverted to save imperiled vegetation, whose advocates complain that the ESA grants far less protection to plants than to animals.

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A western cottonmouth snake (Agkistrodon piscivorous) lies on the Snake Road, near Ware, Illinois. This three mile stretch of road along the is closed to traffic when the snakes are migrating from limestone cliffs to the swamp nearby.

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Snake wranglers from the 45th annual Mangum Rattlesnake Derby in Mangum, Oklahoma. This rattlesnake festival takes in between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds of western diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalus atrox) each year.

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A western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. Studies are showing that rattlesnakes that have the genetic tendency to migrate are being killed in ever-increasing numbers on our nation’s roads, leaving those snakes with non-migrating tendencies behind to breed.

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A western cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorous) snake lies dead on the Clear Creek Levy Road, near Ware, Illinois. Road kills are one of the leading causes of death for snakes in the U.S.

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A western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. Studies are showing that rattlesnakes that have the genetic tendency to migrate are being killed in ever-increasing numbers on our nation’s roads, leaving those snakes with non-migrating tendencies behind to breed.

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A western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. Studies are showing that rattlesnakes that have the genetic tendency to migrate are being killed in ever-increasing numbers on our nation’s roads, leaving those snakes with non-migrating tendencies behind to breed.

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A western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. Studies are showing that rattlesnakes that have the genetic tendency to migrate are being killed in ever-increasing numbers on our nation’s roads, leaving those snakes with non-migrating tendencies behind to breed.

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A western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. Studies are showing that rattlesnakes that have the genetic tendency to migrate are being killed in ever-increasing numbers on our nation’s roads, leaving those snakes with non-migrating tendencies behind to breed.

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A western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. Studies are showing that rattlesnakes that have the genetic tendency to migrate are being killed in ever-increasing numbers on our nation’s roads, leaving those snakes with non-migrating tendencies behind to breed.

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A western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. Studies are showing that rattlesnakes that have the genetic tendency to migrate are being killed in ever-increasing numbers on our nation’s roads, leaving those snakes with non-migrating tendencies behind to breed.

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A western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. Studies are showing that rattlesnakes that have the genetic tendency to migrate are being killed in ever-increasing numbers on our nation’s roads, leaving those snakes with non-migrating tendencies behind to breed.

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A western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. Studies are showing that rattlesnakes that have the genetic tendency to migrate are being killed in ever-increasing numbers on our nation’s roads, leaving those snakes with non-migrating tendencies behind to breed.

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A western Mojave glossy snake (Arizona elegans candida) from a private collection.

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A pair of eastern coachwhip snakes (Masticophis flagellum flagellum).

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A parade float at the Old Settler’s Picnic in Western, Nebraska re-enacts a one-room school house under the watchful eye of an Abraham Lincoln impersonator.

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A man on a horse is silhouetted against a looming stormy sky.

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Hunters make their way back home after a day of shooting pheasants in western Nebraska.

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Hunters make their way back home after a day of shooting pheasants in western Nebraska.

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A western tufted deer (Elaphodus cephalophus) at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas.

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A western tufted deer (Elaphodus cephalophus) at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas.

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A western hognosed snake (Heterodon nasicus) at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, KS.

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A western hognosed snake (Heterodon nasicus) at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, KS.

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A western tufted deer (Elaphodus cephalophus) at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, KS.

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Carter Niemeyer, a USFWS employee, stands over a calf that was killed by a wolf pack near Red Deer, MT. Wolves very seldom kill cattle. Defenders of Wildlife actually reimburses ranchers for any cattle loss to wolves in Montana.

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Carter Niemeyer, a USFWS employee, stands over a calf that was killed by a wolf pack near Red Deer, MT. Wolves very seldom kill cattle. Defenders of Wildlife actually reimburses ranchers for any cattle loss to wolves in Montana.

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Hayley Jolma, is comforted by her mother, Karen Jolma, after they discovered that one of the family’s calves had been killed by wolves in the night. (Western MT)

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Hunters make their way back home after a day of shooting pheasants in western Nebraska.

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Hunters make their way back home after a day of shooting pheasants in western Nebraska.

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Hunters make their way back home after a day of shooting pheasants in western Nebraska.

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The bingo table at the Old Settler’s Picnic in Western, Nebraska.

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The bingo table at the Old Settler’s Picnic in Western, Nebraska.

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The bingo table at the Old Settler’s Picnic in Western, Nebraska.

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Vast and unexplored, the Utukok Uplands are the summer calving grounds for the western arctic caribou herd. The area is thought to be underlain with deposits of coal, making the area vulnerable to strip mining.

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Members of the nearly half million-strong western arctic caribou herd move through their post-calving area near the Slope’s west coast. Grasses rich in nutrition are critical for caribou nursing their young. They head back south over the Brooks range as winter approaches.

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ast and unexplored, the Utukok Uplands are the summer calving grounds for the western arctic caribou herd. The area is thought to be underlain with deposits of coal, making the area vulnerable to strip mining.

Photo: Julie Jensen Director of Marketing | WVC O: 866.800.7326 | D: 702.443.9249 | E: j.jensen@wvc.org

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